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Saudi Arabia sends back 360 Bangladeshi workers

  • Published at 02:52 pm October 26th, 2019
File photo: Migrant workers at Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Over 16,000 Bangladeshi workers deported this year

To make life better for himself and his family, Akram Ali of Kurigram flew to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), five months ago, but life considerably became bad as he was pushed out KSA by the authorities.

Dumbstruck, Akram claimed that he was deported out of Saudi Arabia even though he had legal papers, which allowed him to stay for 10 more months. He is among 360 Bangladeshi workers, with situations similar, and they had to return home from Saudi Arabia in last two days, amid a crackdown on illegal workers by the Saudi authorities, the sources added.

Why are Bangladeshi workers being deported?

When contacted about the issue, Rownak Jahan, secretary of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry, told the Dhaka Tribune, there are few job vacancies in the KSA at the moment, and considering a large number of migrant workers many of the Bangladeshi workers had to be laid off.

The official added that a recently adopted Saudi nationalization scheme, or Nitaqat, has led to layoffs of Bangladeshi migrant workers.

Rownak said: “Usually, recruiting agencies, and brokers are sending people abroad without securing jobs, as they make more money if they send more people.”

The law states that migrant workers are not allowed to work under any employer they want. They have to work under the employer they signed a contract with. If they change their job, and work under a different employer, their legal papers will become null and void resulting in their deportation.

Also Read- 120 more Bangladeshi workers sent back from KSA

Shariful Hasan, Head of Brac Migration Programme, said: “The recounts of the deported workers about the circumstances they were in are heart-wrenching. Prior to the law changes, many workers were deported for not having proper work permits; however, this time around, the majority of them are saying that they have returned despite having legal documents.”

He also said that the recruiting agencies must take responsibility for these mishaps, as well as take precautions in the future so that incidents like this would not occur again.

Bitter experiences

Samrat Sheikh of Gopalganj one of the deported workers, expressed his anger at being deported, claiming he had five more months left in his visa.

He said: “As I exited the mosques after praying salat, the Arab police nabbed me, detained me, and deported me without even examining my documents.”

Another expelled worker Saiful Islam, from Narayanganj, alleged that he was deported despite showing the authorities his work permit that was valid for six more months.

All the returnees demanded the government of Bangladesh to take necessary measures in this regard so that no expatriates have to face a situation similar to this.

According to unofficial estimates, KSA is home to about 1.1 million Bangladeshis as foreign workers. 

Data by the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) shows around 257,317 workers went to Saudi Arab last year, while the number is 268,112 till September of the current year.

Brac Migration Program

Brac Migration Program, with the help of the Expatriate Welfare desk, provided emergency services to the migrants -- such as providing them with food and water in airports, and overseeing their safe return to their abodes.

Saudi Arabia has returned over 16,000 Bangladeshi workers this year alone. Among them, the number of returnees on Friday exceeded any previous records.

With the help of Wage Earners' Welfare Board (WEWB), Brac alone has assisted about 804 workers this month.