Expatriate workers' plights in Maldives
Our migrant workers face numerous ordeals having landed in the destination countries, especially those in the Middle Eastern region, due to illegal manpower agencies. One would naturally have expected a better situation for them in the South Asian region what with strong diplomatic ties between the SAARC countries. But contrary to our expectation, an uncertain fate awaits them even in a country such as the Maldives. A news item carried in a leading Bangla daily tells us nearly 50 thousand Bangladeshi workers are staying miserably as illegal immigrants in the Maldives as a result of collusive practices between unauthorized manpower agencies of the two countries.
Fraudulent manpower agencies operating in the Maldives join hands with those of the unauthorized Bangladeshi agencies and procure fake work permits and promise jobs to the workers based on spurious documents. The workers, having spent more than two lakh taka each, finally fly to the Maldives only to find out that the company which is supposed to have recruited them does not exist at all. With no legal work permit whatsoever, they become illegal immigrants and face immense discrimination at the hands of their temporary employers and constant fear of detention by the police.
Bangladeshi mission in the Maldives has revealed that it attested the work permits of only 58 workers in 2010 whereas thousands of workers went there in that year alone. It proves the unthinkable extent to which illegal workers migrate there every year.
We think that the expatriate welfare ministry has a part to play in this context. It is for the ministry to ensure that not a single expatriate worker is defrauded. The ministry officials should take all the necessary steps to legalize the workers' status. Furthermore, they must make sure that none can leave the country without authentic attestation of their work permits. If necessary, they should put in place a new mechanism for providing authentication.