Call to protect rights of migrants amid coronavirus pandemic

Bangladeshi migrants’ rights campaigners on Saturday asked the government to protect the rights of the migrants amid outbreak of COVID-19 by showing humanitarian behaviour with them not hatred, ensuring their access to information and services at home and destination countries.

In a statement, they requested the Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry to provide migrants with health and financial support through Bangladesh embassies abroad.

‘We demand for humanitarian behaviour, not hatred with migrants,’ said the statement, adding that ‘No discrimination or hatred towards anyone, no one should be excluded.’

A small number of migrants returned to Bangladesh following outbreak of the novel coronavirus which caused panic among mass people of Bangladesh assuming that they were carrying the virus.

The 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, the statement said.

‘We observe that in social media, the government and citizens are spreading rumours 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 rumours and returnee migrants are being humiliated and physically assaulted in many parts of Bangladesh,’ said the statement.

Thousands of people including foreign workers, Sylhet mayor, lawmaker of Cox’s Bazar-1 constituency, returned home from abroad, the statement said adding that they were all very much alike but none of them strictly maintained home quarantine.

‘But on the media and in government announcements, only migrants are being blamed for spreading the coronavirus, which has resulted in migrants being harassed in various ways. Police are identifying the migrant’s houses with red flags.’

‘Migrants are facing hate crime and harassment in family and also in the community which is a violation of human rights. We are concerned that the Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry has not taken any initiative in this regard,’ it said.

The statement was issued and endorsed by Films 4 Peace Foundation executive director Pervez Siddiqui, Netherlands-based Bangladeshi diaspora organisation 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 world. Few of them who came back home on leave, were quarantined properly and got released with medical certificates, he said.

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