The Bangladesh government is sending back stranded workers to their workplaces in five countries by making the best use of the opportunity of special flight operations.
The government launched special flights to Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Singapore on April 17 for stranded expatriate workers.At least 65,000 workers flew to different countries in the last 15 days thanks to operation of special flights.
The major destination of these flights was the Middle Eastern countries.
Sources at the ministry of foreign affairs said at least 64,883 workers have flown to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Singapore since the launch of the special flights.
Of them, some 25,501 workers went to the UAE, 21,943 to Saudi Arabia and 10,498 to Qatar, the ministry sources added.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment and the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism have taken timely decision to send back the workers through special flights, manpower agency leaders said.
Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, former secretary general of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA), said, “When the government suspended international flights, thousands of stranded workers were waiting to return to their workplaces. Operation of special flights was the urgent need for them.”“The good thing is that the government has quickly realised the situation and responded positively to our demand for special flight operation,” he added.
Around 16,707 people returned to Bangladesh from seven countries in the last 15 days, but a foreign ministry official said they tried to bring back only those workers who wanted to come back willingly or whose visa or iqama validity expired.
Employment opportunities have increased for the Bangladeshi workers in the Middle East as recruitment of Indian workers has remained suspended for one month in the Gulf states.
Bangladesh’s Ambassador to Riyadh Dr Mohammad Javed Patwary, during his visit to Dhaka last month, laid emphasis on the need for taking advantage of this new recruitment opportunity. Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said, “In this pandemic situation, any country can close its border. So, as long as the flights for Bangladeshis are on, we will continue to send back our workers.”
He said the situation was completely opposite to what it was at this time last year. Several countries wanted to send back Bangladeshi workers against the will of Bangladesh government.
“Bangladesh is now in an advantageous position as demand for our workers has increased in the Middle East,” Momen said adding that they have created an opportunity to run special flights so that these people could go if international flights are suspended.
Apart from suspending recruitment of Indian workers in the Middle East, manpower sector insiders have identified several other reasons for increasing the scope for the Bangladeshi workers in the Gulf states.
According to them, job opportunities for the workers have increased due to the return of the workers in the wake of the first phase of the coronavirus pandemic.
Besides, wage of Bangladeshi workers is low compared to that of workers from other countries.
They also said Bangladeshi workers are willing to do all sorts of work which the workers from other countries usually refuse to do. Therefore, the employers are more interested in recruiting Bangladeshi workers.