Families of migrant workers in dire straits
The average monthly household expenditure of migrant workers' families has dropped to Tk 7,300 during the Covid-19 pandemic from Tk 17,000 earlier, said a report.
The report of Bangladesh Civil Society for Migration mentioned that 61 percent of 200 households surveyed did not receive any remittance over the last three months.
The amount of remittance the rest families received was on an average Tk 30,000, which was Tk 47,000 per quarter in normal time, it said.
Findings of the report were disclosed during an e-symposium on "Impact of Covid-19 on International Migrant Households", jointly organised by BCSM and Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) yesterday.
The e-symposium was part of RMMRU's similar events under the banner "Build Back Better" on Covid-19 and migration.
The survey was conducted in 21 districts through telephone interview.
Interviews were taken of members of 100 migrant workers' families including families of 26 female migrants, and the other 100 were arbitrarily returned migrants including two female returnees.
The report said for 57 percent families, remittance is the only source of income.
Three-fourth of 18 percent household's income comes from remittance and for 14 percent households, remittance constitutes half of the family income, it said.
Households are managing their day-to-day expenditure by taking loan, through income of other family members, support from others, and curtailing expenditure, it added.
It also said migrant households are going through different types of anxieties regarding their family members abroad while anxieties experienced by male and female migrant family members varied based on the gender of the migrant.
According to the report, female migrants experienced nonpayment of wages, increased workload, job losses and reduced communications with family. Male migrants faced challenges regarding health, mental stress and financial hardship.
The report found 100 cases of gender-based violence in migrant families during the pandemic.
The report recommended that there is need for extended cash support to the distressed families.
Addressing the e-symposium as chief guest, Expatriates' Welfare Minister Imran Ahmad said challenges of returnee migrant workers amid the Covid-19 pandemic are "extraordinary" and that every labour-sending country including Bangladesh is facing the challenge.
He said a series of inter-ministerial meetings on the emerging situation of migrants haven taken place.
As a result, several steps could have been taken including ensuring loan support for the returnee migrants, their quarantine support and immediate food and cash support for overseas migrants, he added.
Kamal Uddin Ahmed, full-time member of National Human Rights Commission, said many countries repatriated migrant workers amid the pandemic which was in violation of the United Nations' call to protect everyone amid crisis.
RMMRU Chair Prof Tasneem Siddiqui said the government should announce more stimulus package for migrant workers.
Lawmaker Shameem Haider Patwary, BCSM Chair and Executive Director of RMMRU Prof CR Abrar, and BCSM Co-chair Syed Saiful Haque, among others, addressed the webinar.