Women migrant returnees face more difficulty reintegrating back into their community, compared to men, a recent study has found.
Gambia, Nigeria and El Salvador have the highest average Reintegration Sustainability Survey score followed by Bangladesh, according to an International Organization for Migration (IOM) study, conducted among returnee migrants of six countries.
Somalia, in the survey scored the lowest, followed by Afghanistan.
Findings of the survey, that aims to measure reintegration outcome of returnees in economic, social and psychosocial dimensions, was revealed on Wednesday.
The research titled "Comparative Reintegration Outcomes between Forced and Voluntary Return and Through a Gender Perspective" interviewed returnees, their family members and key informants in the six countries between March and June 2021.
Around 1321 Bangladeshi migrant returnees from Libya, Greece, Italy, Germany and Saudi Arabia participated in the study while the number of respondents were different from the rest of the countries.
In most countries, among the three dimensions, respondents scored the lowest on average on the economic reintegration dimension.
The specific indicators in the economic dimension are outlined as – satisfaction with current economic situation, frequency of food insecurity, ability to borrow money, frequency of borrowing money, debt to spending ratio, access to employment and training, ownership of productive assets, employment status, and currently searching for a job.
Around 5 lakh Bangladeshi returned home amid the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training.
Bangladesh government has initiated Tk700 crore special reintegration loan fund through Probashi Kallyan Bank (PKB) focusing on the rehabilitation of thousands of pandemic-affected returnee migrants.
However, the response was very poor at the PKB due to lack of communication, promotion and a very short grace period for loan repayment, according to another study of Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Programme last year.
"The issue of reintegration for the migrant returnees did not come up much before the pandemic. So our government was not that prepared about this before. Our score could be lower because of this," said Asif Munier, a migration specialist.
"Now the government has taken several initiatives including loan assistance. Hopefully, in the next five years, Bangladesh will do well in the reintegration of migrant returnees," he said, adding that psychological aspects of the returnees should be given importance.
Women, who participated in the study, reported they have a harder time finding jobs and training opportunities, even health-care services. They also reported being abused and exploited as a migrant worker.
Reintegration was more sustainable for voluntary, rather than forced returnees, the data analysis found
"Voluntary returnees were economically more self-sufficient and socially stable", the study read.
To help migrant workers The IOM report highlighted recommendations including the importance of pre-departure counselling to manage returnees' expectations, immediate and timely assistance upon return, particularly in terms of economic and psychosocial support, and community-engagement to overcome barriers linked to returnees' stigmatization.
The IOM study was conducted by the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance of Maastricht University with the EU-IOM Knowledge Management Hub's (KMH) research fund.