More than one lakh migrant workers of Bangladesh are in severe foods crisis in Malaysia due to coronavirus pandemic, according to migrant rights activists in the Southeast Asian country.
Bangladeshi workers, most of who are engaged in construction sector, have become the worst victims of current situation that rendered them jobless, they said.
Malaysia-based social mobiliser and consultant Abu Hayat told New Age on Monday that the Bangladeshi migrants were in sever food crisis due to ongoing lockdown as many of them were yet to receive their wages since February last.
As temporary contracted workers, Bangladeshi workers have become jobless in Malaysia for last three months, he also said.
If lockdown gets further extension, the condition of undocumented workers will be vulnerable, he added.
Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur has enlisted about 6,500 migrants to provide them with food assistance.
‘We have already provided 1,800 Bangladeshis with food at various areas in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Selangs,’ according to a special circular of Bangladesh mission issued on Sunday.
Food support will soon reach the rest of the migrants, said the circular.
It added that as the Malaysian government declared ‘movement control order’ to prevent COVID-19, Bangladeshis in crisis should send their food demands through filling in online applications on Bangladesh mission’s website.
The Malaysian lockdown has been taking a serious toll on foreign workers, including an estimated 8 lakh Bangladeshis, as all businesses except for emergency services — groceries, medicine shops, hospitals, gloves factories — have been shut down.
Although the Malaysian government has already announced that companies have to pay all regular workers — including those paid on a daily basis — during the lockdown, activists said some employers may not comply with the order.
Harun Al Rashid, chief coordinator of ‘Bhalobashi Bangladesh’ and a migrant rights activist based in Malaysia appealed to the Bangladesh government to enhance budgetary allocations for the migrant workers facing various problems in Malaysia and other countries amid COVID-19.
‘There are over one crore Bangladeshis abroad contributing to national economy. So sufficient funds should be allocated to overcome their problems,’ he told New Age.
Harun informed that his organisation partnered with a Malaysian NGO to register (online) migrants who need food immediately.
‘We have received about 70,000 applications from Bangladeshis.’ he said, adding that there were so many Bangladeshis in crisis who could not fill in the forms online.
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