We wonder what the State Minister for Foreign Affairs has meant by saying that the government has taken a zero-tolerance policy to prevent illegal migration. Reportedly, most of the people who migrated illegally to Libya in the recent case were young people who could not find any jobs in the country. And in desperate attempts to change their lives, they took such dangerous journeys paying huge sums of money to the trafficking gangs. And despite such tragedies, many people are still willing to take unforeseen risks to go abroad.
While we have achieved impressive economic growth—Bangladesh is among the three fastest growing economies in the world, according to IMF—inequality in the country has also reached the highest level. Studies have found that this growth is not inclusive and it is not creating employment opportunities for the young people.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) in a recent report has found that the youth unemployment rate in Bangladesh has increased from 6.32 percent in 2000 to 12.8 percent in 2018. Needless to say, a big percentage of this unemployed young population look for fortune abroad and eventually become victims of trafficking. With the hefty amount of money that the job-seekers pay to the trafficking gangs, they can easily start small businesses, if the government supports them, especially in the areas where job opportunities are less.
Therefore, the government must address the root causes to stop illegal migration. Meaning that it must create employment opportunities for the youth, especially in the rural areas and apprehend the criminal gangs that are involved in human trafficking. In addition, it must enforce the existing laws and raise massive awareness campaigns to warn the prospective job-seekers of the dangers of illegal migration. Having zero-tolerance would mean nothing, unless substantive steps are taken to address the issue.