International Organization for Migration’s mission chief in Bangladesh George Gigauri has emphasised the need for promoting safe and legal migration to reduce the chances of trafficking.
‘Once we promote safe migration and legal migration, it will minimise any chance of exploitation,’ he said, emphasising the promotion of the ‘right type of migration.’
In an interview with New Age, George Gigauri said that the persons who would migrate legally would have sufficient documents, cards and contact numbers of the government so that they would not get cheated or trafficked easily.
He said that the government of Bangladesh has taken official policy to promote the regular and legal migration and the IOM has been working with the government to assist it.
‘We want migration to be a matter of choice not a matter of desperation,’ he said.
Putting emphasis on clear definition of migration and trafficking, he said, ‘Migration is voluntary, legal and a regular process while trafficking is a form of exploitation.’
‘Documents of trafficking victims are taken away, labour is exploited and rights are abused,’ he said, adding that in forced migration, trafficking assumed a serious form of exploitation.
He made it clear that trafficking was not only labour exploitation; it was a form of sexual servitude. ‘Women are forced into prostitution and children are forced to begging,’ he added.
Asked about the role of the middlemen in recruitment, the IOM chief said that that all dalals or middlemen were not bad. ‘Some of them are criminals, they tell lies to migrants, exploit them and take away their money,’ he added.
He also said that migrants were often forced to take out big loans to bear the cost of migration.
‘They sell lands, houses and cattle to pay brokers. They get cheated very often,’ he said, adding that the migrants became vulnerable and often got stranded in transits and at destinations.
The IOM chief stressed the need for dissemination of right and specific information on safe migration among the people, especially making it available at the country’s divisional, district, upazila and union levels.
George Gigauri said that facilities should be made available so that if necessary the migrants could check their visa at the DEMO offices.
He said that as the middlemen increased the cost of migration, so ‘our job is to make recruitment process short, cheap and easy.’
Replying to a question about the government’s decision to regularise the middlemen, the IOM chief said, ‘The first step is to create legitimacy of the dalals, however the most important step is its implementation on the ground at village level.’
He said that the IOM was helping the government to implement such programmes at the country’s grassroots level.
About combating trafficking, he felt creating awareness among the people and making proper information available were the most important steps to be completed so that the migrants could become educated enough to be able to take their decisions.
He also pointed out that low prosecution was one of the reasons for government failure to curb trafficking in the name of migration.
Traffickers must be caught, tried, convicted and brought to book, he said and added, ‘If the criminals don’t get punished, they will continue with their crimes.’
Stressing on the humanitarian steps, he said that the IOM would take necessary steps to repatriate stranded or locked migrants and provided them psychosocial and economic reintegration for capacity-building and protection of their rights.
Replying to a question about the role of civil society organisations, he said that the counter-trafficking responses were the grassroots level interventions, so the civil society organisations could play very important role to raise awareness at the grassroots and protect the people from being duped into trafficking.
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