Rabab Fatima, Bangladesh's Permanent Representative and Ambassador to the United Nations, called for "global solidarity and cooperation" and "strong political will" to address the challenges of affected migrants in the Covid-19 pandemic.
She made the call while participating in a high-level virtual discussion titled "Immigration on the eve of Covid-19: Immigrant Health and Remittances". The event was hosted by the Group of Friends of Migration.
Noting that migrants in many parts of the world have been deprived of their rights, emergency health care and even employment opportunities, the permanent representative of Bangladesh said, "Migrants work in the front line for the host country's economy, and that is true in this pandemic as well. Therefore, migrants must be included in the plans and packages that these countries have adopted in tackling Covid-19."
Expressing concern over the forced migration of migrants from many countries, Ambassador Fatima said, "The management of returnees is a huge challenge for many developing countries; In this regard, the United Nations and other international development partners must extend a helping hand to the efforts of developing countries."
Referring to the World Bank projection about over 20% decline in remittances in the low and lower middle-income countries, the permanent representative (PR) of Bangladesh warned that it would have drastic consequences and would drive many remittance dependant households in the developing world into poverty.
Ambassador Fatima welcomed the Secretary General's brief on "people on the move" highlighting the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on migrants. She also commended the initiatives of some countries to removing barriers and facilitating migrants' access to the labour market, social protection, and basic services during the pandemic. In addition, the PR welcomed the Joint Call to Action on Remittances in Crisis by Switzerland and the UK that recognises the importance of keeping remittance flowing to the home countries despite the likely Covid-induced recessions.
Ambassador Fatima reiterated that the international community must work on re-creating conditions for continuity of migrant workers' contribution to economies and societies, and anything contrary to that will lead to the rise of illegal migration and human trafficking.
The participants were unanimous in their views that there must be policy steps to make migration a viable development tool in the post Covid-19 recovery efforts. They also suggested that the implementation of the Global Compact on Migration would address the existing policy gaps in migration management.
Bangladesh is the co-convenor of the Group of Friends of Migration along with Ireland, Mexico and Benin.
The Minister of International Development and Diaspora of Ireland, Ciaran Cannon T.D. participated in the meeting which was also attended by a considerable number of delegations at the ambassadorial level both from the migrants-hosting as well as migrants-sending countries, Dr. Mahmoud Mohaieldin, UN Special Envoy for SDG Financing, high level representatives from the IFAD, WHO and other UN agencies.
Speakers talked about the importance of migration and remittances in development, poverty reduction and women empowerment. They were of the opinion that the impacts of the pandemic on migration and remittance would severely affect developing countries.