The Bangladesh government is charging for the first time a guarantee deposit from each migrant worker going to Croatia to prevent them from fleeing to other European countries such as Italy, Germany and France.
‘We have taken the measure to check illegal movement of migrants from Croatia after the authority complained that many Bangladeshi migrants fled their farms in the past for other European countries,’ said expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment ministry additional secretary Bashir Ahamed.
He said that they fixed the deposit after consulting the Croatian authority.
Sector insiders, however, said that the deposit was not enough for those who really have the plan to escape while they argued that it is an economic burden for those who want to stay there.
BRAC migration programme head Shariful Hasan said that the responsibility lay on the migrants and they should be committed so as not to leave the destination country to become an undocumented labour force elsewhere.
‘The government should create awareness among the migrants so that they do not take risk by breaching their contracts of employment,’ he said.
Fair Trade International proprietor Jalal Uddin said that it is objectionable that migrant workers are compelled to deposit guaranteed money.
The government’s decision to make the fixed deposit receipt mandatory goes against its low-cost migration policy, he said.
‘We have huge opportunity in Croatia, which can only be realised if the government comes forward with a policy supporting this large number of skilled people who are waiting to try their luck,’ he said.
‘There is no visa office in Bangladesh, people travel to India to get their visas. It is essential to have one in the country to boost labour migration.’
Md Sidur Rahman, who has completed all preparations to go to Croatia, said that he needed over Tk 8 lakh to complete the process.
‘I have kept Tk 1 lakh in FDR as guarantee but I am still confused about whether I will get the money back or not,’ he said.
Migrants in Croatia said that they spent Tk 5–7 lakh to reach Croatia though the government-set charge was not more than Tk 2 lakh.
Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training officials said that the security deposit would be returned after a year.
After the end of the tenure, the nominee of the account would be able to withdraw the money, said BMET officials.
WARBE Development Foundation chairman Syed Saiful Haque said that because of the recurring incidents of workers fleeing Croatia, many migrants became victims of trafficking and exploitation.
The government should enhance its monitoring and ensure the accountability of the recruiting agencies to stop trafficking and exploitations, he said.
A huge number of migrants from different countries, including Bangladesh, illegally enter Europe through Italy and their journey has long been marred by fatal accidents and inhuman exploitations.
A statistic by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, also known as Frontex, showed that 5,414 migrants tried to enter Europe through three major routes including Central Mediterranean route, Eastern Mediterranean route and Western Balkan route amid the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
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