A hundred and nine more Bangladeshi expatriates have returned to Bangladesh from Saudi Arabia at 11.20pm yesterday. They returned home via Saudi Airlines flight SV 804. With this, a total of 1,610 Bangladeshi expatriates have returned home in the span of two weeks of 2020.
BRAC Migration Program, in assistance with the Expatriate Welfare Desk, provided emergency support in repatriating the Bangladeshi expatriates in Saudi Arabia.
One of the returnees - Taleb (30), was handed over to his family the same night he arrived. Upon arriving in Bangladesh, Taleb was found to be mentally unstable. He went to Saudi Arabia five years ago as a day labourer but he started to become mentally unstable two months earlier.
Azim Hossain, another expatriate day labourer, went to Saudi Arabia only two months ago. He said the Saudi police arrested him while he was on his way to buy groceries. Although he had three more months of visa remaining, he was deported to Bangladesh even after the police spoke to his employer (Kafil) during his arrest.
Ruhul Amin, Firoz Hossain, Manik, Mizan, among the 109 returnees, have reported similar incidents while their stay in Saudi Arabia. They have complained that their employers did not provide them with work permits (Akama), despite having taken the money from them.
Shariful Hassan, head of the BRAC Migration Program, said, "25,789 Bangladeshi workers were deported from Saudi Arabia in 2019 and within 16 days of the new year, 1,610 Bangladeshis have returned home."
Most returnees, even the ones who went to Saudi Arabia only a few months ago, have returned home empty-handed, uncertain about what the future holds.
Shariful, with reference to 2019's statistics of Bangladeshi workers returning home, said, "According to data from Expatriate Welfare Desk, a total of 64,638 Bangladeshi workers have returned home in 2019."
Among them, 25,789 returned from Saudi Arabia; 15,289 returned from Malaysia; 6,117 returned from the United Arab Emirates; 7,366 returned from Oman; 2,525 returned from the Maldives; 2,012 returned from Qatar; 1,448 returned from Bahrain and 479 returned from Kuwait.
"All of them have returned empty-handed as deportees," Shariful added.
"The recruiting agencies have to take responsibility so that no one has to go back to square one. The embassies and the government should also look into the issue. Specifically, fraudulent activities in the name of free visa should be apprehended at once," Shariful expressed.