Every year several millions of Bangladeshi workers migrate crossing the borders, looking for better working opportunities. International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that each year around four million workers flee the country for overseas employment.

These workers often face some sort of problems due to their lack of knowledge and access to the right information regarding migration, it’s opportunities, risks, and discriminations. They experience hostility and exploitation; even the semi-skilled and unskilled labor force receives the worst pay and treatment from north Africa or the Gulf countries than the other migrants from richer countries. There are inequality and prejudice. Their lack of knowledge on overseas employment law they suffer even after providing very high fees to recruitment agencies. 

Migration is a pillar for the economy of Bangladesh for its remittance inflow. Despite facing inequality and prejudice, “why do they migrate?” this question may arise in our minds. The reason behind migration from Bangladesh is mostly economic, we can say that as well as losing lands due to frequent and severe natural calamities, loss of income sources, lack of industries, corruption, inequal or low wage, high unemployment or underemployment are few reasons behind migration that works as push factors

© REUTERS/Amit Dave

The economy of Bangladesh is flourishing and in a stable condition for the past few years. It is very satisfying that Bangladesh has the highest and fastest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in fiscal 2018-2019 of 8.2 percent in Asia (ADB, 2019) but people living under the poverty line are also very high. Bangladesh is situated in flood plains of Ganges, Brahmaputra, Meghna, and many other small rivers. The changing course of the river in flood season forces the inhabitants to relocate.

In Bangladesh, human trafficking and illegal migration have become a pressing issue in the last few years and the government of Bangladesh seems to take some drastic actions for it, as the changing trend with the increasing number of human trafficking is exacerbating. A horrific tragedy in the guise of a delusional paradise and vulnerable population falling a victim knowingly or unknowingly. 

Delwar Hossain, a resident of Ramchandrapur, Shasha, Jessore were trafficked to Indonesia by air, a broker from the capital deceived him to give a secure job in Malaysia and charged a handsome amount for it. His journey from Indonesia to Malaysia was sponsored by the broker. Then he joined thirty-two more Bangladeshis, and they were sent to Jakarta. The group was again sent to Medan, where they found over two hundred and fifty Bangladeshis. They were all illegal migrants, found in a suffocating warehouse in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra by Indonesian police. An estimation by the Expatriated Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry found that a racket of a middleman sends migrants to the Maldives at around TK 2.5 lacks and the number of such undocumented workers is over 60,000.

© A.D’Amato

Brunei is a source and transit country for man and women who are subjected to trafficking especially for forced labor and forced prostitution, a racket of brokers were controlling the recruitment of workers from Bangladesh putting them in distressful situations. They used to seize their passports and forced them to pay a monthly commission of up to $100. They got deceived by the brokers to work for fake companies in Brunei. About 75% of workers were illegally sent to Brunei by the brokers in collaboration with dishonest immigration police at the airport through so-called ‘body contracts’ two years ago. Neighbour the visas were attested by the Bangladesh High Commission labor wing nor they had any clearance from the Bureau of Manpower, Employment, and Training, but the recruitment was so strong that they could work without permission. 

Europe is considered to be on the list of higher value for migration. The market is created as soon as they find a route to supply people to get into Europe. The migrants don’t need to show the bank account if they are resorting to smugglers. The Libyan route of Europe is considered the most dangerous route for migrants and migrants die on this route very frequently. According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimation around two million people crossed the Mediterranean Sea between 2014 to April 2020 and of the 19,000 were killed and unfortunately, many of them were Bangladeshis. 

Libya has become a fertile ground for trafficking due to its political instability, a rise of militias, the fight for control and power, the unstable government has made the rule of law very fragile. Migrants and refugees are used for debt bondage, forced labor, and sexual exploitation. Trafficking has become a way to increase power and resources. As an example, we can look at the recent abduction and killing of 30 migrants, including 26 Bangladeshis by the Libyan smugglers. On May 28th in Mizdah, at a gunpoint, it was plotted before by the families of the smuggler leader who was killed by the police. This was a heinous crime against humanity and a human rights violation. However, six people associated with the murder was arrested by the detective branch of the police.

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