28,849 expats to return home: Foreign Minister

News of Bangladesh. Dhaka | Published: 20:46, May 06,2020


The government on Wednesday said that some 28,849 expatriates, mostly from the Middle East, would return home within the next couple of weeks.

So far, 3,695 expatriate Bangladeshis have returned home from the ME.

‘We discussed how we can bring them back. We can do it,’ foreign minister AK Abdul Momen said after the fifth inter-ministerial meeting.

Momen said Bangladeshi expatriates were expected to return home from the United Arab Emirates, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Oman, and Kuwait.

He said the countries would send them first who came under general amnesty and released from jails. ‘We’ll bring all of them back home. There's no doubt,’ Momen said.

He said that the president of Maldives informed the government that they would send back 1,500 Bangladeshis of which 400 would return home on Thursday in addition to those who already returned.

Momen also said Bangladesh, like other countries including India, would bring back its nationals from the UAE.

He did not mention how many Bangladesh nationals will return home from the UAE but said India was planning to bring back around 197,000 of its citizens from the UAE.

The foreign minister said Saudi Arabia did not provide the full list yet but there was a possibility that 4,262 Bangladesh nationals would return from Saudi Arabia at this moment.

He said around 1,000 Bangladeshis would return from Oman while the government is trying to involve the IOM to bring back Bangladesh citizens from Lebanon free of cost.

Momen said a good number of Bangladesh nationals lost jobs in Iraq and the government is working to bring them back as well.

The FM said Kuwait announced general amnesty for those who were convicted and kept some 4,500 undocumented Bangladesh nationals in camps to repatriate them.

The government asked Bangladesh Mission in Kuwait to ensure adequate food supply to Bangladesh citizens as there are reports that they were not given adequate food.

‘We’ll bring them back when the Kuwait government wants and arranges flights for them. They took the responsibility,’ Momen said.

The FM said expatriate Bangladeshis were assets of the country and the government would make sure that they did not face any problems.

He said the government has quarantine facilities for 3,000 plus persons in Dhaka apart from similar facilities in other parts of the country.

Momen said the returnees would be able to get loan from the COVID-19 Recovery Fund so that they can start small businesses in the country.

Each of them can get loan of Tk 5 to 9 lakh, he said.

The FM said the government has so far brought back 2,853 Bangladeshis who got stranded in a number of countries including India due to coronavirus pandemic.

He said Bangladesh would bring back more citizens from India, the UK, USA and Malaysia who got stuck there.

Bangladesh has requested the Islamic countries and members of the NAM to make sure that no one dies of starvation.

‘Documented or undocumented, that doesn't matter. No one should die of starvation. Arrange food for them,’ Dr Momen requested the countries.

He also urged the countries to ensure that no one's job is lost during this crisis.

On Monday, FM Momen termed the migrant workers ‘frontline contributors’ to the economies and sought a joint strategy for responsibility sharing both at home and host countries.

‘A meaningful global strategy for migrant workers is needed to address the challenges of COVID-19,’ he said, at the NAM meeting convened by Azerbaijan.

Momen urged the NAM membership to work out innovative solutions and approaches to tackle the crisis.

He emphasised that the NAM's response must be embedded in multilateralism and international solidarity through forging a robust global partnership.

The government has already allocated nearly USD 11.6 billion which is 3.5 per cent of total GDP, to help the vulnerable people and businesses to bear the shocks of the pandemic.

Expatriates' welfare and overseas employment minister Imran Ahmad, state minister for foreign affairs M Shahriar Alam and representatives of the relevant ministries and department were connected through videoconference.

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