Nearly 70 percent of surveyed migrants who returned to Bangladesh between February and June remained unemployed, according to a study covering 12 districts.
The findings are presented in the report, ‘Rapid Assessment of Needs and Vulnerabilities of Internal and International Return Migrants in Bangladesh’, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said in a press release issued on Wednesday.
According to the report, returnee migrants experienced reintegration challenges which included difficulties in securing employment, financial problems such as lack of income and accumulating debt, and health-related issues.
Unplanned, large-scale returns of unemployed migrants affect remittance-dependent communities across the country where each migrant worker supports three members of his/her household on average.
The report was released in coordination with the Bangladesh government. It listed findings from interviews with 2,765 people – 1,486 international returnee migrants and 1,279 internal return migrants.
The survey was conducted in May and July in 12 high migration-prone districts, seven of which share border with India, the IOM press release said.
Migrant workers are particularly vulnerable to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Since March, hundreds of thousands of international migrant workers were forced to return to home due to limited access to income-generating activities, social services, healthcare systems and social support networks in the countries in which they were working.
Sixty-four percent of international migrants indicated that following the COVID-19 outbreak, they struggled to access information and health services in the countries in which they were working in.
A total of 29 percent of respondents indicated they had returned to Bangladesh because they were asked to leave the country they were in, and 23 percent reported that they were worried about COVID-19 and wished to return to their families.
Moreover, 26 percent reported that they had returned because their families had asked them to, and nine percent returned because they were told that the borders were going to be closed and they were worried that they would be left stranded.
At the time of the interviews, 55 percent of the respondents who had returned from abroad had accumulated unpaid debt.
The respondents owed debt to family and friends (55 percent) and to micro-finance institutions (MFIs), Self Help Groups and NGOs (44 percent) and moneylenders (15 percent).
In total, 86 percent of debt owed to family and friends was charged at zero interest, while over 65 percent of debt owed to MFIs, NGOs and private banks carried an interest rate of between 10 to 15 percent, and the interest on 62 percent of debt owed to money lenders was charged between 50 to 150 percent.
Migration-centered approaches essential
Giorgi Gigauri, Chief of Mission of IOM in Bangladesh, said, “Migrant workers are some of the most vulnerable groups affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Bangladeshi migrant workers and their remittance-dependent communities are adversely impacted by the unprecedented global restrictions on mobility and the COVID-19-induced recession.”
“IOM, as coordinator of the Bangladesh UN Network on Migration, is committed to contributing to the body of evidence on migration in/from Bangladesh. This research will support government-led efforts to develop evidence-based strategies to ensure sustainable reintegration for returning migrants,” he said.
During the interviews, respondents were asked about their future aspirations.
Almost 75 percent of respondents reported that they want to re-migrate and 97 percent of those migrants would choose to go back to the same country in which they were working prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Meanwhile, 60 percent of respondents were interested in upgrading their skill set to secure better paid jobs.
On August 10, IOM hosted a virtual briefing on the findings of the Report which was attended by a range of stakeholders including UN Agencies, I/NGOs, LNGOs and academic organizations from Bangladesh and from the region.
The “Rapid Assessment Needs and Vulnerabilities of Internal and International Return Migrants in Bangladesh” was conducted under the EU-funded project ‘Regional Evidence for Migration Analysis and Policy (REMAP)’.
“During this pandemic, research will support the development of responsive, migrant-centered approaches essential for the support and protection of vulnerable migrants. We should work together to reintegrate migrants into their communities,” said Gigauri.
Police recovered a powerful bomb and materials used to make bomb from the house of suspected Neo-JMB member Sanaul Islam Sadi in Sylhet city’s Jalalabad residential area on Tuesday night.
A team of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit and police arrested five suspected members of Neo JMB, including its Sylhet sector commander, from different parts of the city in a drive on Monday till Tuesday morning, said second officer of Shahparan Police Station Sohel Rana.
The arrestees were identified as Naimuzzaman, regional commander of Neo JMB, Sylhet, Mirza Sayem, Jewel, Sanaul Isalm Sadi and Rubel.
Later, a team of CTTC and police conducted a drive at the house of Sanaul around 9:30pm on Tuesday and recovered an active bomb, bomb making materials, a number of computers and a laptop.
The arrestees were plotting to carry out an attack at the shrines of Hazrat Shahjalal, the CTTC unit claimed.
Naimuzzaman was a student of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) and Sanaul and Saym were the students of Madan Mohan College.
The COVID-19 crisis is having a devastating effect on the education and training of young people and Bangladesh is no exception, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said Wednesday.
Since the outset of the pandemic, over 70 percent of youth who study or combine study with work have been adversely affected by the closing of schools, universities and training centres, according to an analysis by the ILO.
According to the report ‘Youth and COVID-19: impacts on jobs, education, rights and mental well-being’, 65 percent of young people reported having learned less since the beginning of the pandemic because of the transition from classroom to online and distance learning during lockdown.
“The findings of this timely study clearly show how young women and young workers are being hardest hit by the ongoing crisis,” said Tuomo Poutiainen, Country Director, ILO Bangladesh, “and Bangladesh is no exception.”
Millions of youth are bearing the brunt of the ‘digital divide’ with poor access to online and distance learning, a lack of IT equipment and a lack of study space at home, said Poutiainen.
"This lack of education and skills training will further undermine their future career prospects.”
Unless urgent action is taken, Poutiainen said, the nation’s youth will suffer severe and lasting impacts from this pandemic and its socio-economic fallout – both physically and psychologically. "We must safeguard their education, training and rights to access decent work.”
Despite their efforts to continue studying and training, half of them believed their studies would be delayed and nine per cent thought that they might fail.
The situation has been even worse for youth living in lower-income countries, who have less access to Internet, lack of equipment and sometimes lack of space at home.
This highlights large “digitals divides” between regions: while 65 percent of youth in high-income countries were taught classes via video-lecture, only 18 percent in low-income countries could keep studying online.
“The pandemic is inflicting multiple shocks on young people. It is not only destroying their jobs and employment prospects, but also disrupting their education and training and having serious impacts on their mental well-being. We cannot let this happen,” says ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.
Concerned about future
According to the report, 38 percent of young people are uncertain of their future career prospects, with the crisis expected to create more obstacles in the labour market and to lengthen the transition from school to work.
Some have already felt a direct impact, with one in six youth having to stop work since the onset of the pandemic.
UNB File Photo
Many younger workers are more likely to be employed in highly affected occupations, such as support, services and sales-related work, making them more vulnerable to the economic consequences of the pandemic.
Forty-two percent of those who have continued to work have seen their incomes reduced.
This has had an impact on their mental well-being.
The survey found that 50 percent of young people are possibly subject to anxiety or depression, while a further 17 percent are probably affected by it.
Ensuring young voices are heard
Despite the extreme circumstances, young people are using their energy to mobilise and speak-out in the fight against the crisis.
According to the survey, one in four did some volunteer work during the pandemic.
Ensuring that youth voices are heard is critical to delivering a more inclusive response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Giving young people a say in decision-making to articulate their needs and ideas improves the effectiveness of policies and programmes and gives youth the chance to participate in their delivery, says the report.
The report also calls for urgent, large-scale and targeted policy responses to protect a whole generation of young people from having their employment prospects permanently scarred by the crisis.
This includes, among other measures, re-integrating into the labour market those who have lost their jobs or who have experienced a reduction in working hours, and ensuring youth access to unemployment insurance benefits and measures to boost their mental health, from psychosocial support to sports activities.
The disproportionate effect of the pandemic on young people has exacerbated inequalities and risks reducing the productive potential of an entire generation, says the ILO.
‘Youth and COVID-19: impacts on jobs, education, rights and mental well-being’ is published by the ILO, AIESEC, the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, the European Youth Forum, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth.
A total of 73 Bangladesh citizens will return home from Beirut, Lebanon on Wednesday morning.
A Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) aircraft, which handed over relief materials in Lebanon, will land at Hazrat Shajalal International Airport at am with the repatriated Bangladeshi nationals from Beirut.
Earlier, Bangladesh sent "emergency supplies" to Lebanon for the people of Beirut as a token of friendship who are trying to recover from the damage caused by the huge twin explosions.
Bangladesh Air Force carried a C130 full of emergency supplies which reached Beirut on Monday.
The goodwill aid included nine tonnes of food items, two tonnes of medicines and medical supplies, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The transport aircraft of Bangladesh Air Force carrying the goodwill aid; and four high level officers of Bangladesh Navy, an officer of Bangladesh Army and 12 crew member of Bangladesh Air Force reached Rafic Hariri International Airport, Beirut, Lebanon on Monday.
Ambassador of Bangladesh to Lebanon Major General Md. Jahangir Al Mustahidur Rahman handed over the goodwill aid to the nominated local representative of the Lebanese government.
The officials of Lebanese Defense Ministry, UNIFIL and Embassy officials were present.
During this difficult time in Lebanon, the government of Bangladesh sent the goodwill aid for the people of Lebanon on behalf of the people of Bangladesh.
Five Bangladeshi nationals were killed and more than 100 including 21 members of Bangladesh Navy injured in the explosions.
The blast killed more than 160 people, injured more than 6,000 people and left more than 300,000 homeless.
Also read: Beirut Blast: Death toll climbs to 154
Bangladesh Navy's warship, BNS Bijoy which patrols Lebanese water territory under UNIFIL, was partially damaged.
The Embassy also urged all to inform it through its hotline number if they come to know of any more casualties.
Some 1,50,000 Bangladesh nationals work in a number of sectors in Lebanon.
Hospitals were overwhelmed — one that was damaged in the blast had to evacuate all its patients to a nearby field for treatment.
Buildings were damaged for miles around the city, and Beirut’s governor said Wednesday that hundreds of thousands might not be able to return to their homes for two or three months.
The Hindu community of the country celebrated Janmashtami, marking the birth of Lord Krishna, on Tuesday with due religious fervour.
According to Hindu religion, Lord Vishnu incarnated in the universe as Lord Krishna in the prison of Raja Kangsa on this day, the eighth of “Shukla Pakkha” (bright fortnight) in the month of Bhadra in Dwapara Yuga in order to protect “Dharma” from the hands of devils.
Sri Krishna was born to Devaki and Vasudeva in Mathura to which Krishna’s parents belonged.
The day was a public holiday.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in separate messages greeted the members of the Hindu community on the eve of the occasion.
National dailies published special articles while Bangladesh Betar and Bangladesh Television and other private TV channels and radio stations also aired special programmes highlighting different aspects of the eventful life of Lord Krishna.