Migrant workers deserve so much from us
It is good to see the government establishing a dedicated centre for migrant workers to reduce the hassles they face while going abroad or returning home. It's a long-overdue initiative. Over the years, the migrants' contribution to our economy has been nothing short of extraordinary. In the last fiscal year alone, Bangladesh received remittances worth USD 24.77 billion because of its migrant workers. Yet, we have seen these same people being exploited year after year both at home and abroad, without anyone so much as batting an eyelash. That is very unfortunate given how much they've sacrificed and the vital role they've played in turning Bangladesh into a developing country.
According to a report published in this newspaper on April 16, the centre will hold pre-departure briefings for outbound workers on issues related to destination countries and different services offered by the Wage Earners' Welfare Board (WEWB). Returning workers will also be briefed on reintegration for socio-economic development. Migrant workers coming from outside of Dhaka can stay at the centre for a maximum of two nights before boarding their flights out of the country. This will surely be helpful to many. However, the number of workers that it can currently accommodate—only 50—should be increased. Similarly, workers who land at the Dhaka airport can also find accommodation at the centre using their necessary paperwork. This will be of particular help to migrant workers who fly into the country late at night, as it is even more difficult for them to arrange decent accommodation.
Establishing this centre is a good first step in providing our migrant workers with the support that they deserve. However, it should by no means be the end of it. Our migrant workers have sacrificed plenty of themselves for their families and their country. But the process of migrating from Bangladesh is still fraught with many challenges as well as dangers of being scammed or trafficked, with very little chance of receiving substantial or meaningful assistance from the government. That should change. For now, this centre can be a hub that migrant workers can turn to for a host of other migration-related facilities. And we call on the government to use it to build a safer and easier path for our workers to migrate abroad and work without being exploited for a better future for themselves, their families and their country.