Around 70 percent of migrants who returned to the country from abroad between February and June this year are still unemployed, according to a study of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
The study was conducted between May 1 to June 30 on 2,765 returnees, including 1,486 international and 1,279 internal migrants, in 12 districts.
The findings of the study were presented in a report titled "Rapid Assessment of Needs and Vulnerabilities of Internal and International Return Migrants in Bangladesh".
The report was published on July 20 and was made public on August 10 at a virtual briefing hosted by IOM, said a press release today.
It said, "Returnee migrants experienced reintegration challenges, which included difficulties in securing employment, financial problems (lack of income and accumulating debt), and health-related issues."
"Unplanned, large-scale returns of unemployed migrant workers affect remittance-dependent communities across the country where each migrant worker supports three members of his/her household on average," it added.
Around 64 percent of international migrants indicated that following the Covid-19 outbreak, they struggled to access information and health services in the countries they were working in.
Another 29 percent of respondents said they had returned to Bangladesh because they were asked to leave the country they were in, and 23 percent reported that they were worried about Covid-19 and wished to return to their families, according to the IOM report.
Giorgi Gigauri, chief of mission of IOM in Bangladesh, said, "Migrant workers are some of the most vulnerable groups affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Bangladeshi migrant workers and their remittance-dependent communities are adversely impacted by the unprecedented global restrictions on mobility and the Covid-19-induced recession."
Effect on income
Among the international returnees, 78 percent were sending remittance in Bangladesh on a monthly basis. The effect is visible in wage earner's remittance inflow to the country.
From March to May this year, remittance dropped to a record level compared to last year. In April, remittance dropped by 23.80 percent.
According to the Bangladesh Bank, the year-on-year amount dropped by 13.93 percent in May and 12.51 percent in March.
Sadly, 29 percent of workers did not receive their final wage before returning home. Moreover, nearly half of the returnees' (47 percent) current average household income is zero.
Twenty percent of these returnees left Bangladesh this year. So, they returned within one to four months.
Among the surveyed respondents, the highest number returned from India (30 percent), followed by Saudi Arabia (15 percent), the United Arab Emirates (13 percent), Italy (8 percent) and Oman (8 percent).
Surprisingly, when respondents were asked about their future migration, almost all (97 percent) of them said they would choose to go back to the same country they were working in before returning to Bangladesh.
Additionally, 83 percent of international returnees wished to re-migrate after Covid-19 ends, which does not seem to be happening soon.
Challenges faced by international returnees at home
More than half of all surveyed respondents faced challenges upon returning to Bangladesh.
The assessment classified the challenges into three categories: primary, secondary and tertiary.
Around 63 percent of returnees' top primary challenges were finding a job, followed by financial problems (9 percent) and physical health (8 percent).
Meanwhile, mental/psychosocial health issues (24 percent), repayment of debts (21 percent), and negative reactions from home communities (13 percent) have been mentioned as secondary challenges.
On the other hand, no social support network (24 percent), repayment of debts (23 percent), and financial problems (22 percent) have been classified as tertiary challenges.
62 percent of internal returnees were unemployed, according to the study, and most of them (42 percent) returned from Dhaka district.
Sadly, 37 percent of internal returnees did not receive their final wage.