Make diplomacy effective for protecting the interest of our migrant workers
The government requested Saudi Arabia and other major labour-receiving countries to address the problems of Bangladeshi migrant workers desperately waiting to go back to their respective workplaces. The requests were made at a meeting on Wednesday between delegations of missions of Gulf countries and Malaysia and two Bangladeshi ministers at the state guesthouse Padma.
Migrant workers, who had been stranded at home since coming back from Saudi Arabia for holiday, recently took to the streets out of concern over renewal of their work permit (iqama) and visa, despite repeated assurance from the Bangladesh government.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said that the government had requested our missions abroad to help the workers. On Saudi-based expatriates' demand for another automatic extension of their visas and iqama, the foreign minister said it was a matter for the Saudi government to decide but that he had asked them to see the workers issues sympathetically. He also said in case workers are not required by employers in the Kingdom, they should look for new job opportunities since they are trained. The minister said for the returnee migrant workers, the government has readied loan facilities of about Tk 700 crore.
It is most unfortunate that with a total of 7.5 million Bangladeshis living abroad, the country has ranked sixth among top 20 countries of origin for international migrants. However, Bangladesh is not among the top 10 remittance-receiving countries. But in 2015, Bangladesh was one of the top 10 remittance-receiving nations.
We are not ready to accept the simple answer of the foreign minister that the ministry has nothing to do if the Saudi government does not want the workers. There is something called diplomacy and our diplomacy does not work anywhere. We have to make diplomacy effective for mutually beneficial relationship among the countries. Just addressing the foreign diplomats is not diplomacy. Diplomacy is not arranging foreign trips of our dignitaries. Our major diplomacy should be in the area of finding and protecting jobs of the migrant workers. We depend on their remittances heavily. So look after them.