Ovibash Karmi Unnayan Programme (OKUP) has appealed to the prime minister to announce a social safety net programme for returnee migrant workers and their families, who are not being included in any of the social protection schemes declared by the government.
The grassroots migrants' organisation said that over the last one month, they had telephone calls from about 1,600 migrant workers and their families.
An analysis of those calls gave an idea that an estimated 25 percent of migrant families are now facing serious economic crisis as migrant members of the families are no longer been able to send money home.
"Many of them have extremely limited or no access to food, putting them on the brink of starvation. Existing health risks are also worsening due to families' inability to purchase essential medicines," said Shakirul Islam, chairman of OKUP, in a statement.
Apart from that, these migrant families are also facing difficulties in accessing emergency support being provided by the government. The government has announced provisions of rations for 50 lakh people, but the migrant families are not being included in the list since they do not fall into the category of people living below the poverty line, he said.
Some of the migrant families also cannot approach the local leaders because of social prestige that they hold even though they are now going through food crisis.
Some 40 percent of migrant workers are now living their lives in hardship, since the current lockdown in many countries in the Middle East and Southeast Asia has caused losses of their jobs or salaries, OKUP said.
"Many of them have been badly affected by the current crisis. It is estimated that several hundred thousand migrant workers might be forced to come back following the global recession caused by this pandemic."
Therefore, Shakirul said it is imperative that the government announces social protection schemes for the returnee migrants.
Migrants are an integral part of this society, not only for the fact that about one crore migrants send home around $18 billion yearly, but that they are citizens of this country and four to five crore people depend on their income, he said.
"We urgently call upon the honourable Prime Minister to announce a social safety net for the families of migrant workers and returnees," he added.
"We also request the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment to take measures in this regard as swiftly and comprehensively as possible, in order to ensure the migrants and their families are not left behind in overall welfare, food security, and protection."