Around 2,09,245 migrant workers have returned home from 29 countries, mostly from middle eastern countries, between 1 April and 18 October this year after losing their jobs, reads recent data provided by the expatriate welfare desk of the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
The data says 56,046, the highest number of returnees, were from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The returnees from the UAE said their employers had sent them back home with an assurance that they would go to the country again after the situation gets normal.
After the UAE, the second-highest number of migrant workers, around 54,408, returned from Saudi Arabia.
Of the total returnees, 22,936 were women.
Among other destinations for migrant works, 21,257 returned from Qatar, 12,679 from Oman, 11,818 from the Maldives, 10,706 from Kuwait, 9,952 from Malaysia, 8,282 from Iraq, and 6,506 from Lebanon.
The migrant workers, who returned home amid Covid-19, are getting loans at a 4% interest rate from the Tk200-crore fund of Wage Earners' Welfare Board for their rehabilitation. Returnee expatriates and families of migrant workers who died abroad amid the pandemic can avail the loan.
Probashi Kallyan Bank started loan disbursement from the Tk200-crore fund from 15 July. A returnee can borrow Tk1-5 lakh from the fund for any of the 30 sectors, including agriculture, fisheries, poultry, livestock and agriculture.
Moreover, there is another big fund worth Tk500 crore for them from the government-declared stimulus package.
However, the returnee migrants claimed that the process of getting a loan was very complicated.
Migration experts say the fund was not sufficient to support migrant workers who are in a vulnerable condition.
Professor Taneem Siddiqui, founder chair of Refugee and Migratory Movement Research Unit, said, "Tk700 crore is not sufficient for the returnees. Earlier, we urged the government to allocate a minimum of Tk2,000 crore."
Appreciating the government funds disbursed for assisting the migrants and the announcement of Tk700-crore fund, she said, "To provide [assistance] for the vulnerable sections of one crore migrants and their families, a much larger fund is required."