Vol. 4 Num 14 Wed. June 11, 2003  
Front Page

Over 5,000 behind bars abroad

More than 5,000 Bangladeshis are behind bars and in concentration camps in 60 countries, said a report by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) yesterday.

The government officials, attending a press conference on the release of the World Migration Report 2003, said they initiated a process to bring back home the Bangladesh nationals.

According to the report presented by IOM South Asian Regional Representative Shahidul Haque, over 200 Bangladeshis are convicts and the rest were arrested for illegal migration or stay without valid documents.

Daliluddin Mondal, secretary of the expatriates welfare and overseas employment ministry, who attended the press conference as chief guest, demanded relaxation of the restrictions on movement of workers in line with trade liberalisation under the World Trade Organisation.

"A process for release of the Bangladeshis is underway. But it is very difficult, as many of them do not have any document and some do not want to return home," he said.

Nine Bangladeshis were caught in the Philippines a few days ago but refused to come back when the government wanted to help them out, he said to cite an example.

A group of 25 Bangladeshis came back from Egypt two days ago, as they had no valid document, he added.

The UN body report, released worldwide yesterday, says the current global international migration is around 175 million people a year, and around 1.4 million people migrate from the South Asian countries, mainly Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

More than two lakh people go to the Middle Eastern countries for employment every year from Bangladesh alone, and around 3 per cent of them females, the report added.

Although the government imposed restrictions on overseas employment of unskilled female workers in 1997, their illegal migration is still going unchecked, said IOM officials.

A proper management of migrant workers can lend economic boost to the developing nations, said the report.

Ferdous Ara Begum, joint secretary of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, spoke at the press conference at the Jatiya Press Club as special guest.