Reports of every boat capsize in the Mediterranean raise concerns about whether there is a Bangladeshi national among the victims. Few stories of the suffering of expatriate workers in the Middle East and Southeast Asia attract public attention. More remain in the dark.

Bangladesh still boasts of receiving remittances amounting to over US$20 billion a year, while foreign currency holders pay the price. These migrants mostly do odd jobs and face harassment and torture in the workplace and sometimes imprisonment in host countries. They are commonly exploited for not having valid documents.

People who sacrifice the best part of their lives by remaining helpless abroad are not treated well anywhere. Low skills and lack of proper education are responsible for lower wages, but hiring and retaining them as illegal workers by employers or host governments is nonetheless a critical problem that turns them into slaves. modern times.

No agency can provide authentic data on the exact number of Bangladeshis working abroad, such as the amount transferred (or diverted) through informal channels. The absence of large numbers of people from the scene – whether from the population census or from the branch of regulatory authorities – leaves some confusion in determining, for example, a demand of foods in the country.

The macro issue of undocumented workers in major destinations such as Saudi Arabia, UAE and Malaysia is discussed officially to achieve “amnesty”, not to secure rights according to local and international laws.

We do not notice carefully how Bangladeshi men and women are trafficked to civil war-torn Libya or to strategic crossroads in Turkey in an attempt to reach the European coast in search of jobs and employment. a new life.

Moreover, the issue of our struggling brothers and sisters in the island state of Maldives in recent years has remained off the radar of those who can help change their destiny. Bangladeshi workers there, according to some returnees, receive a quarter of the wages earned by nationals of a few other South Asian countries.

More alarmingly, they are exploited, enslaved, physically abused and imprisoned in some cases, some stakeholders said during an interactive session in Dhaka organized earlier this week by the Refugee Migration Movements Research Unit. (RMMRU), an organization that works on the rights of migrant workers.

The number of Bangladeshi workers in the Maldives is, incredibly, around 150,000. More than 50,000 of them are said to be totally undocumented. Informal migration is to blame. The Maldives has further been described as a dumping ground for aspiring Bangladeshi migrants. When recruitment agents fail to offer their clients overseas jobs elsewhere, they send them there.

Stakeholders, including former diplomats, recruiters and rights activists at the RMMRU meeting, observed that since Bangladeshi workers represent the equivalent of one-fifth of the Maldivian population, a large part of the local population is hostile.

Stigmatization of Bangladeshi workers is also common in some other destinations. Such antagonism, speakers argued, has never been raised with host countries.

Many workers arrive at their destination with apparently valid documents which, however, do not contain a work permit. This kind of situation involves the issue of surveillance and governance at Bangladeshi exit points.

A detailed study on the problems and prospects of employment abroad has been recommended in order to define the future lines of action of the country and to ensure the safety, security and well-being of expatriates.

Currently, some of the migrants, including women, are receiving training but working in inferior jobs in shops, construction sites and households abroad, but the majority are employed as unskilled laborers and without wage insurance. minimum.

Bangladesh, as a labor exporting country, is too small to raise issues of the rights of its nationals with hosts. Four decades after joining the labor market abroad and now having massive diasporas, Bangladesh must be diplomatically proactive in addressing the issues of its migrants to secure their rights and uphold the nation’s dignity at home. ‘foreign. Bangladeshi missions need to raise their level of economic diplomacy to maximize national interests in the areas of remittances and global trade.

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