Bangladesh Civil Society for Migration (BCSM) has appealed to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to create a fund for distressed migrants and their families in Bangladesh affected by the global coronavirus catastrophes.
Sixteen migrant rights bodies under BCSM have issued an open letter, signed by Dr Tasneem Siddiqui; chair of the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU), on Monday urging the Premier to help the pandemic-hit migrants and their families.
The remittance flow, which is now $18 billion a year, may dwindle in the future, the letter said, suggesting that the government needs to provide with increasing incentives to keep the flow stable and create alternative jobs at home for those who may return after losing jobs abroad.
Migrants working in the Gulf, South-East Asian countries, Europe and America are anxiously waiting for some assurance from the PM, according to the letter.
The letter noted that the migrants, including those working under 'free-visa', undocumented ones, small entrepreneurs, service sector employees in the Middle East as well as a large section of those working in Europe are now mostly jobless and without income.
Under the current circumstances, the families of the migrants in the country are facing food insecurity as their livelihood dependent on the remittance, the letter added.
Appreciating the government's announcement to create a Tk200 crore fund for assisting the migrants, the letter said, "To provide for the vulnerable section of one crore migrants and their families, it will require a much larger fund."
"We appeal to you [PM] to create a fund for the migrants from the government exchequer, not depending on the fund (Wage Earners' Welfare Fund) that has been created by the migrants themselves," read the letter.
Criticizing the move by a number of countries to deport irregular migrants, the organizations said, these countries must provide protection to all migrants irrespective of their status according to international law.
The organizations also said the Covid-19 outbreak has prompted a negative mindset among countrymen towards migrants returning from abroad.
Other requests mentioned in the letter are: gear up the administration and make it accountable to reduce the scope of trafficking in post corona virus situation; bring change in education policy to capture the future labor market; forcefully present the concerns of all migrants in various multilateral forums when opportunity will arise; and take initiative to create a positive mindset about the migrants and ensure they are treated with dignity.