The contribution made by expatriate workers towards building up foreign exchange reserve for Bangladesh over the last two decades has been tremendous. However, due to persistent political turmoil in the country and other issues, many of them are facing threats to both their livelihood and survival.
Recently, a boat carrying around 60 Bangladeshi migrants capsized on its way to Italy from Libya. This, naturally, made headlines worldwide. The frequency with which such tragedies are occurring is mindboggling. As of May 8, at least 443 migrants either died or went missing in the Mediterranean Sea while trying to reach Europe this year. The figures were 2,299 in 2018 and 3,139 in 2017, as recorded by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The sad state of affairs in which Bangladesh’s migrants are is in sharp contrast to the country’s much-vaunted economic progress. For a country to be worthy of global respect, it is not just economic growth that is necessary; the quality of life of the citizens is also important.
As things stand now, there is an urgent need to review existing policies and programmes to ensure the safety of Bangladeshi migrants. In order for any assessment to be effective, it needs to include all stakeholders including the regulatory bodies as well as local and international organisations working on migration. Bangladesh must take better care of its citizens and address issues that are pushing a section of them to make perilous journeys by sea.