The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia continues to detain and deport Bangladeshi male and female workers despite having valid work permits, said officials and rights activists.
Over 380 Bangladeshi workers have been sent back home by Saudi Arabian authorities in the last three days following the on-going crackdown on undocumented workers there.
On their return home, most of the migrant workers complained that they were forced to return despite having valid documents.
Wage Earners’ Welfare Board assistant director Tanvir Hossain, who is also in charge of welfare desk at HSIA, told New Age that almost every day undocumented Bangladeshi workers were coming back home from Saudi Arabia and other countries.
He found that some workers were deported for changing their workplaces in Saudi Arabia despite having valid documents with them.
Nearly 10,000 Bangladeshi male and female workers were sent back home from the KSA alone in six months since January, according to officials posted at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
Officials in Dhaka said that the workers were returning home with exit passes issued by Bangladesh embassy in the wake of such forced deportation of the expatriate workers.
Following their arrival in the KSA with so-called ‘free visas’, they said that many of the Bangladeshi male workers failed to get jobs, thereby becoming part of the undocumented workforce and finally got detained by police.
They said that the number of migrants is way more than the number of jobs available there, and the recent Saudisation policy, officially known as Saudi nationalisation scheme or Nitaqat, led to layoffs of Bangladeshi migrant workers.
Amid deportation of Bangladeshi workers, Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment minister Imran Ahmad, who was visiting Saudi Arabia, raised the relevant issues before the Saudi government.
Saudi Arabia assured of taking actions against the employers who abused Bangladeshi female domestic workers, said officials.
The assurance came from KSA’s Labour and Social Development vice-minister Dr Abdullah bin Nasser Abu Thuniyan when Bangladesh’s Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmad had a meeting with him on Wednesday.
When Imran Ahmad raised the issue of safety and rights of Bangladeshi female domestic workers in the KSA, the Saudi vice-minister said prompt actions would be taken if there were complaints of any ‘negative incident’, according to a press statement of Bangladesh’s expatriates’ welfare ministry.
Imran Ahmad, who had led a Bangladesh delegation to the KSA, had meetings with Saudi authorities, said officials in Dhaka.
BRAC migration programme officials received the deported migrant workers at Hazrat Shahjalal International airport and provided foods and some money to facilitate return of the migrants to their homes.
When asked, Shariful Hasan, BRAC migration programme head, told New Age that the Saudi assurance must be translated into reality so that our women workers remained protected by the laws.
He said that the errant employers should be punished in Saudi Arabia to set an example in protecting rights of the migrants there.
He suggested the Bangladesh embassy revealed real causes of abuses and deportation of the male workers who had valid work permits.
Shariful said that the increasing number of Bangladeshi male and female workers returning from Saudi Arabia this year had set off an alarm for Bangladesh labour migration.
Over 20 lakh Bangladeshis are currently working in Saudi Arabia, said officials.
Saudi Press Agency recently reported that since November 2017, Saudi police arrested about 3.8 million foreigners for violating residential, labour and border security regulations.
Trade unionist and founder of the AWAJ Foundation Nazma Akter told New Age that the government of Bangladesh should ensure ‘safety and security of jobs of Bangladeshi workers in Saudi Arabia.’
If the government fails to ensure their security, the female migration to Saudi Arabia should be stopped, she said.
Nazma Akter demanded that the government should realise due compensation for Bangladeshi migrants who were returning home after losing their jobs abroad.
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