• Wednesday, Jun 29, 2022
  • Last Update : 04:24 pm

UAE sheltering Afghan refugees may jeopardize Bangladesh's labour export

  • Published at 06:22 pm August 22nd, 2021
Dubai city
People walk at the site of Dubai Expo 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates Reuters

The evacuees will travel to the UAE from the Afghan capital of Kabul on US aircraft in the coming days

Bangladesh’s export of labour to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is likely to suffer as the Gulf country has decided to host Afghan refugees against the backdrop of political instability in Kabul and other cities, sources said.

The UAE has agreed to host 5,000 Afghan nationals evacuated from Afghanistan on their way to other countries, according to Gulf News.

The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation announced that following a request from the United States, it would host the Afghans on a temporary basis, after which time they would travel on to other nations.

The evacuees will travel to the UAE from the Afghan capital of Kabul on US aircraft in the coming days.

What it means for Bangladesh

Meanwhile, Bangladesh has again asked the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to open its labour market that has plummeted since 2015.

Bangladesh Ambassador to UAE and Permanent Representative to IRENA Md Abu Zafar made the request when he called on Undersecretary of the Ministry for Human Resources and Emiratization of the UAE Saif Al Suwaidi at latter’s office in Dubai last week.

Bangladesh exported 215,452 workers to the UAE in 2012 and the number of workers dropped to 14,241 in 2013 . The country exported 1082 workers in 2020, 3,318 workers in 2019, 3,235 workers in 2018, 4,135 workers in 2017 and 8,131 in 2016.

Also Read - UAE adds Bangladesh to travel curbs list

The UAE Undersecretary was assisted by Abdulla Ali Rashid Alnuaimi, Assistant Undersecretary of Communication & International Relations and other high officials of the Ministry while the Ambassador was accompanied by the Consul General of Bangladesh in Dubai and Deputy Chief of the Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

Former Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) director Zillur Rahman while talking to Dhaka Tribune, said the BAIRA leaders are closely watching the Afghan situation. 

Zillur Rahman, also a member of BAIRA, said  Bangladesh is expecting to recover the labour market in the Gulf country after vaccination started both in Bangladesh and UAE.

The meeting discussed the whole gamut of bilateral cooperation and engagement in the areas of the continued employment of Bangladeshi workforce in the UAE and skill development before their arrival in the country. The UAE undersecretary highly commended the hardworking and adaptive aptitude of Bangladeshi workers and appreciated the remarkable contribution they have made to the socio-economic development of the UAE over the last four and half decades.

While thanking the UAE leadership for hosting Bangladeshi workers in their country and taking good care of them even during the pandemic, the Ambassador underscored the importance of job- centric training and orientation of the workers before their travel to UAE as well as on-arrival orientation on the workers’ rights, working condition, UAE language and culture etc.

He put special emphasis on protection of the rights of the vulnerable groups, particularly the female domestic workers.

To this effect, the envoy made a proposal that with the support of the UAE government and private sector,  Bangladesh can either designate or set up dedicated training institutes in Bangladesh and also develop suitable training modules for workers wishing to take up employment in the UAE.

He further proposed that the UAE should consider introducing “Skill Certification” of the returning workers who have gained right skill in any trades owing to their long years of work in the UAE.

The ambassador also conveyed Bangladesh’s readiness for hosting in Dhaka the first meeting of the Joint Committee (JC) on implementation of the MoU on the recruitment of domestic workers from Bangladesh.

He also appreciated the UAE government for granting the opportunity to, like other nationals, visiting Bangladeshi nationals to take up employment  in the UAE and then transfer their visit visa to employment visa at ease while looking forward to the re-opening of UAE job markets for general category of Bangladeshi workers along with other nationals that has remain suspended owing to the C-19 pandemic situation.

The UAE side welcomed the proposals made by the ambassador and expressed their willingness for holding the Joint Committee Meeting in the coming months in Dhaka. 

The UAE side stressed establishing a comprehensive and sustainable process that would cover all aspects of migration - namely proper training of the workers, transparent selection and recruitment process, wage protection, end-service benefit, rights and duties of all stakeholders (employers, employees, recruiting agents and  the governments). They expressed that the whole issue would be discussed in detail during the forthcoming joint committee meeting.

Also Read - Emirates suspends flights to Bangladesh after air travel ban

They also discussed the ways and means for close cooperation between the two countries in different international forums for mutual interest in this field particularly, in Abu Dhabi Dialogue, Colombo Process and International Organization for Migration. The issue of returning Bangladeshi nationals with UAE residence stranded in Bangladesh due to Covid-19 related travel ban was also discussed. The meeting ended with exchange of gifts from both ends.

Meanwhile, during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's recent visit to the gulf state, home to around one million Bangladeshis, the issue was discussed between the two governments without any breakthrough.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said: "I did discuss the issue with the Foreign Minister of the UAE in Abu Dhabi on January 14. I also requested him to make an official declaration stating the reopening of the UAE labour market for Bangladeshis in full scale."

The labour market of the United Arab Emirates will re-open in full scale for Bangladeshi migrant workers if certain conditions are met, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has told Dhaka Tribune.

He dwelt on conditions attached to securing jobs as well as a building of awareness among prospective Bangladeshi migrant workers about relevant laws and regulations of the emirates, rules and norms of their society, and significant reduction of migration cost.

Most importantly, the Bangladesh foreign minister said: "The UAE wants migration costs to come down significantly."

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