The government will provide financial assistance to Bangladeshi expatriates, living in some European and Middle East countries, as they are facing a precarious situation due to the crisis evolved over coronavirus pandemic.
Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmad said the government has taken necessary steps so that the Bangladeshi expatriates in different countries of Europe and Middle East get financial assistance to meet their emergency needs.
“In many countries, Bangladeshi expatriates have either turned jobless or facing problems with their jobs. We’ve talked to the Foreign Ministry over the issue, and we’ll take necessary steps to resolve the problem after discussion with the countries concerned in a coordinated way,” he said.
Salim Reza, secretary to the Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry, said the expatriates suffering amid the crisis will get financial assistance for their accommodation, food, medicine and other essentials.
“Letters have already been sent to the missions concerned seeking lists of what kind of support are needed for the expatriates,” he said.
The government has allocated money for the expatriates of the Corona-hit countries, said Salim adding, “The government on Monday allocated Tk 20 lakh and Tk 5 lakh for the Bangladeshi expatriates living in Dubai and Qatar respectively.”
Replying to a question, Salim said, “We’ve enough fund to fulfill the basic needs of the expatriates, including accommodation, food and medicine. Now, we’re providing money to them as much as they need amid the ongoing crisis. Later, we we’ll think about their rehabilitation issue when it comes.”
A hotline has been opened at the ministry and the authorities concerned are monitoring the condition of the Bangladeshi expatriates in different countries, especially in the Middle East and European countries through Bangladesh missions and embassies and by making direct phone calls, said Salim.
The additional secretary to the ministry has been entrusted with the responsibility, he said.
The Bangladeshi missions are involved in launching campaigns for tackling or preventing coronavirus and providing hand sanitisers, masks and gloves among the Bangladeshi expatriates, he added.
Hotline numbers have been opened in different Bangladesh embassies, including that of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Malaysia, Qatar, Iraq and Hong Kong, said Selim.
Mentioning that Bangladeshi expatriates are facing a perilous situation due to the pandemic, said Salim Reza adding, “We’re working for the welfare of the expatriates through our labour wing.”
Many European and Middle East countries have taken some unprecedented measures like lockdown and banning travel, aiming to prevent the spread of the deadly virus, rendering many people, including Bangladeshis, unemployed.
Tobarak, a Bangladeshi expatriate from Saudi Arabia, Manik Mia from the UAE, Mazharul Islam from Malaysia, Akkas Uddin from Qatar and Alamin from Dubai told the UNB correspondent that in many cases, the employers have provided salaries, food, medicines and shelter to the Bangladeshi expatriates.
But, he said, those who do not have permanent job are struggling a lot to survive.
They also urged the government and the community people to extend their helping hands towards them.
Shamim Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, General Secretary of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira), said a taskforce, headed by additional secretary to the Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry, Ahmed Manirus Salehin, was formed for providing necessary help to the Bangladeshi expatriates living in different countries affected by coronavirus.
They also put forward a proposal to the government to provide aid to the family members of those who died from coronavirus, he said.
Sources said Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmad had a meeting with a delegation of International Organization of Migration (IOM) discussed the problems being faced by Bangladeshi expatriates in different countries.
Coronavirus, first reported in China in December last year, is affecting 199 countries and territories around the world and two international conveyances.
The global death toll from COVID-19 jumped to 42,341 as of Wednesday while Bangladesh confirmed six deaths.