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Govt to launch reintegration support pilot project by Mar

ARAFAT ARA | February 23, 2020 00:00:00

The government is set to launch a pilot project on economic reintegration support for returnee migrant workers by this March aiming to help them get involved with income generating activities, officials said.

To this effect, Wage Earners' Welfare Board (WEWB) has called a meeting this week to finalise the project involving about Tk 20 million.

Officials dealing with the matter said the pilot scheme will start with 100 male and 100 female workers in 15 districts.

However, the country has no official database of returnee migrant workers. But experts said nearly 100,000 Bangladeshi workers including successful and unsuccessful ones come back home each year.

Shariful Islam Hasan, head of BRAC's migration programme, said it is a good initiative. Migrant rights organisations can help the government in putting forward recommendations to make the programme successful.

He also suggested taking up a sustainable reintegration programme including psychosocial support so that other organisations can follow this model.

Officials said if the pilot project is successful, they will gradually launch such reintegration programme for returnee workers across the country.

Under the project, workers will get necessary funds and skills development training to start their income generating activities such as poultry or cattle farm, agriculture farm, boutique shop etc.

An official at WEWB said they would give the workers training in different trades about which they (workers) had already primary knowledge.

When asked, he said they have yet to categorize returnee migrant workers to be eligible to apply for reintegration support.

Some 62,000 workers were deported from different Middle East countries in 2019 due to various factors including overstaying, scarcity of jobs and lack of valid documents there. Of them, about 25,000 workers returned home only from Saudi Arabia.

Besides, more than 50,000 workers were sent back from Malaysia under its "Back 4 Good" programme last year.

Because of workplace harassment, at least 10,000 female workers returned home from different Middle East countries in last four years.

According to the welfare desk at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and rights activists, more than 1,500 domestic helps returned home from Saudi Arabia last year. They faced exploitations like denial of wages and sexual and physical assaults there.

Migrant rights activists have long been demanding taking steps to launch a reintegration programme for returnee workers to help them lead a normal life.

They have also urged the authorities concerned to ensure sustainable labour migration to check such unsuccessful migration.

According to the Bureau of Manpower Employment of Training (BMET) data, more than 12 million Bangladeshi workers went abroad since 1976 with jobs in different countries.

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