Bangladesh to raise rights issues of migrants at UN dialogue

Md Owasim Uddin Bhuyan

The Bangladesh government will raise issues related to the rights of the country’s migrant workers at a UN high level dialogue in New York, officials said.
A five-member delegation led by expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment minister Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain left Dhaka on Sunday evening to attend a meeting on international migration and development which is being held on October 3-4.
A week ago, the government and the International Organisation of Migration jointly held a national consultation in Dhaka involving members from both government and the private sector which prepared some recommendations to be raised at the high-level dialogue.
The Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training director general Begum Shamsun Nahar, a member of the delegation, told New Age that representatives from all labour sending and receiving countries around the world would attend the UN high-level dialogue.
As a labour-sending country, Bangladesh will raise the issues of its workers’ entitlement in the destination countries, she said.
‘The Bangladesh delegation will urge the world community to take measures to ensure respect and protection of the human rights of all migrant workers with particular reference to women and children,’ a senior official of the expatriates welfare and overseas employment ministry said.
He said that Bangladesh will call for measures to be taken to prevent and combat smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons, and to ensure regular, orderly and safe migration.
After attending the UN high-level dialogue, the Bangladesh delegation will visit South Africa and Botswana from October 6 to 13 where ‘irregular migration’ of Bangladeshi workers is known to take place.
Zillur Rahman, director of programmes at SHISUK, an NGO working with irregular migrants, told New Age that irregular migration takes place when the country of origin does not have the bilateral agreements with the country of destinations.
‘Irregular migration has been taking place from time immemorial,’ he said. ‘The Bangladesh government should proceed to sign bilateral agreements with many countries including South Africa where irregular migration has taken place.’
Workers from Bangladesh and other countries go to work in South Africa through irregular channels, usually crossing other African countries, Zillur said.
Expatriates welfare and overseas employment ministry secretary Zafar Ahmed Khan told New Age that the Bangladesh team will hold meetings with the South African ministers of labour and commerce to find a route for the legalisation of undocumented Bangladeshi workers and also the introduction of formal channels to facilitate the repatriation of remittances.
More than one lakh Bangladeshi workers have been working in South Africa and most of them are engaged in business, the secretary said.

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