Bangladesh has called for global solidarity and cooperation to address the challenges of the migrants who are disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic globally.
Ambassador Rabab Fatima, Bangladesh's permanent representative to the UN, made the call at a virtual high-level meeting of the Group of Friends of Migration titled "Migration in the time of Covid-19: Migrant Health and Remittances" in New York on Friday.
Bangladesh is the co-convener of the Group of Friends of Migration along with Ireland, Mexico and Benin, said a statement of the Bangladesh PR.
The speakers recognised the importance of migration and remittances in development, poverty reduction and women's empowerment and opined that the impacts of the pandemic on migration and remittance would severely affect the developing countries.
The issue is of utmost importance for Bangladesh, as about one crore Bangladeshi migrants work abroad and send home annually about $18 billion dollars. Many of them in the Middle East and Southeast Asia are now jobless.
There are fears that several hundred thousand Bangladeshi migrants may be forced to return home in the coming months if the Covid-19 situation does not improve, making unemployment at home a real problem.
At the meeting, Rabab Fatima underscored that the pandemic has exacerbated the vulnerabilities of the migrants as in many places they are denied of their rights, urgent healthcare and even jobs.
"The migrants are frontline contributors even during the pandemic in their host countries and they must be included in the response and recovery packages and plans," she said.
For many developing countries, managing the returnees is a huge concern and the national efforts must be supported by the UN and other international development partners and stakeholders, she also said.
Referring to the World Bank's projection that remittances may decline by over 20 percent in the low and lower middle-income countries, Ambassador Fatima warned that it would have drastic consequences and drive many remittance-receiving households in the developing world to poverty.
The participants at the meeting unanimously agreed that there must be policy steps to make migration a viable development tool in the post-pandemic recovery efforts, and suggested that the implementation of the Global Compact on Migration would address the existing policy gaps in migration management.