Over 14,000 jobless workers await repatriation from Iraq

Rashad Ahamad | Published: 00:21, Sep 12,2020


More than 14,000 Bangladeshi expatriate workers, who were laid off or lost their employments, are waiting for repatriation for last several months.

Workers said that some big companies arranged the repatriation of their laid-off workers, but the workers who were employed in small enterprises, had no such option go return home.  

Bangladesh embassy officers in Iraq said that most of the 20,000 workers were of three giant companies, including Hanwha and Hyundai, and the rest were in small companies.

Workers complained that Hanwha and Hyundai initiated repatriation of their 14,000 workers a couple of months ago, but could not complete the task yet as the Bangladesh embassy did not give permission to the charter flights of the companies that time.

They also alleged that more than 6,000 workers, who had lost their jobs in other companies, could not return home for the non-cooperation of the embassy.

The Bangladeshi ambassador in Iraq, Abu Maksud M Forhad, however, denied the allegations.

He told New Age on Friday that they were trying to repatriate the jobless workers.

He said that they allowed 11 charter aircrafts for the jobless workers in August and 13 in September.

Each plane carries only around 200 passengers due to COVID-19 situation.

Embassy officials said that Hanwha Engineering and Construction Company wanted to repatriate over 9,500 workers and Hyundai over 4,500 by February 2021.

They also said that about 6,000 workers had already returned home and the rest would be send back gradually.

Workers of small companies who wish to return at own cost said that a few private airlines were operating flights via Iraq but they charged high.

They said that private airlines charged $850 to $1,000 for a passenger, but it was not possible for jobless workers, many of who had lost jobs more than seven months ago, because the usual fare was less than $600 for a passenger.

They said that except the plane fair, $159 to $200 were needed to complete the process including COVID-19 test.

They urged the government to start special low-cost flights for them.

Bangladeshi expatriate Rozel Ahmed Khan in Iraq said that several thousand workers, who worked in small companies, were in dire crisis.

Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment secretary Ahmed Munirus Saleheen at an event recently told reporters that due to inadequate quarantine facilities in Bangladesh they were allowing migrants gradually but at a time.

Workers, however, said that the government agencies were wasting time showing lame excuses.

They said that workers were suffering for the lack of cooperation among the government agencies.

About one crore migrants from Bangladesh stay abroad for livelihoods and most of them stay in Middle East countries including Saudi Arab and United Arab Emirates.

Bangladesh embassy officials in Bagdad said that about 2.5 lakh Bangladeshi workers were staying in the country.

More than 20,000 Bangladeshi migrant workers in the formal sectors in Iraq have lost their jobs as 95 per cent businesses in Iraq suspended work due to COVID-19, report different media.

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