Some Middle Eastern countries have continued to release Bangladeshi migrants from jails and send them back home amid COVID-19 pandemic, said officials.
Over 800 Bangladeshi migrants were released by the authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait, they told New Age.
Oman government was considering release of several hundred more Bangladeshis from jails, they said.
At least 124 Bangladeshi migrants serving various terms in Kuwait jails were released for deportation, said a senior official in Dhaka.
Besides, 300 Bangladeshi migrants jailed in Bahrain were released in a bid to control COVID-19, according to Bangladesh embassy in Manama.
They said that those Bangladeshis were among 901 prisoners who were pardoned by Bahrain king.
Bangladesh labour councillor in Manama Sheikh Mohammed Tauhidul Islam told New Age that they were preparing to repatriate the Bangladeshi nationals.
‘They will go through health check-up first and any COVID-19 positive individual will be quarantined in Bahrain,’ he said.
Over 400 detainees released from jails in Dammam and Jeddah have been brought back home recently by a chartered flight, according to Wage Earners Welfare Board.
WEWB deputy director Zahid Anwar said that after release from jails they were detained in the deportation centres in the KSA.
As the COVID-19 crisis surges, four international rights organisations — Migrant Forum in Asia, Cross Regional Center for Refugees and Migrants, Pacificwin Pacific, and Solidarity Center — called on the governments in Middle East to stop immediate deportation of migrant workers.
Some countries have deported migrant workers out of fear that they might spread COVID-19, the statement read. It also added that a number of governments have targeted migrants as scapegoats, blaming them for spreading the disease.
In some cases, breach of social distancing rules was cited as the pretext, said the joint statement.
Migrant rights activist and Awaj Foundation director for migration Anisur Rahman Khan told New Age that Bangladesh missions should be made financially solvent to provide necessary supports to the migrants released from jails abroad.
He demanded completing full medical check-up in ME countries before sending them back home.
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