Migration experts and civil society organizations on Saturday demanded protection of migrant workers of Bangladesh amid outbreak of COVID-19 showing humanitarian behavior with not hatred to them.
They appealed to the government of Bangladesh to ensure migrants’ access to information and services at home and destinations.
In a statement, the migration experts urged the Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment ministry to provide migrants with health and financial support through Bangladesh Embassies abroad.
‘We demand for humanitarian behavior, not hatred with migrants,’ said the statement, adding that ‘No discrimination or hatred towards anyone, no one should be excluded.’
Over 12 million migrants of Bangladesh send annual remittances of over $16 billion and play important role to national economy.
The statement was issued and endorsed by Films 4 Peace Foundation executive director Pervez Siddiqui, Netherlands based Bangladeshi diaspora organization BASUG International chairman Bikash Chowdhury Barua, UAE based Bangladesh Probashi Association ‘Probashi Poribar Parisad’ migrant community worker Anisur Rahman Khan and YPSA Programme Manager for Safe Migration Abdus Sabur.
WARBE Development Foundation chairman Syed Saiful Haque said that about 15 million Bangladeshi migrants were scattered across the globe sacrificing valuable things for the country.
Few of them who came back home on leave, were quarantined properly and got released with medical certificates, he said.
‘So migrants alone should not be blamed for spreading COVID-19,’ he said.
In recent days a small number of migrants returned to Bangladesh following outbreak of Novel Corona virus which caused panic among mass people of Bangladesh assuming that they were carrying the virus. Civil Aviation authority requested migrants to stay home in Self-Quarantine, but due to lack of awareness and lack of monitoring, few of them did not stay at home causing risks to migrants’ family and community, according to statement.
‘With grave concern we observe that in social media, the government and citizens have spread rumors that it is the migrants who are responsible for bringing the corona virus from abroad, which is not true. Unfortunately, people gave in to such remours and returnee migrants are being humiliated and physically assaulted in many parts of Bangladesh,’ said the statement.
In addition to the returnee migrants, it said that thousands of people including foreign workers and mayor of Sylhet City Corporation, MP of Cox’s Bazar-1 constituency, returned home from abroad. They are all very much alike but none of them strictly maintained home quarantine.
‘But in the media and government announcements, only migrants are being blamed for spreading the Corona virus, which has resulted in migrants being harassed in various ways. Police are identifying the migrant’s houses with red flags.’
The administration is only banning the migrants from going public and those who are coming from abroad recently but are not staying at the address mentioned in the passport, have been asked to contact the police headquarters. It seems that in the last one month, no one has returned except the migrants. As a result, migrants are facing hate crime and harassment at family and also in the community which is a violation of human rights.
‘ We are concerned that the Ministry of Overseas Employment’ and Welfare has not taken any initiative in this regard. ‘
‘We believe that such hatred would not have spread like wild fire spread if the authorities concerned mentioned ‘people’ instead of using the word “migrant” as they have recently come from overseas and asked them to stay in Self-Quarantine.’
COVID-19 has become pandemic worldwide and the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 as a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Like other countries of the world, the virus has affected Bangladesh.
In recent days thousands of Bangladeshi migrants have lost their jobs in various countries around the world, including in Italy and Spain due to the outbreak of the Novel Corona virus.
Recently, migrants have been stranded at the airports in different countries of the world due to limited/ shut down of the air communication.