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European Diaspora leaders appeal to Bangladesh to protect rights of migrants amid coronavirus pandemic


A group of diaspora leaders, social & development activists and media personalities based in Europe, in a joint statement issued yesterday, appealed to the Bangladeshi authorities to show humanitarian behaviour towards Bangladeshi returnee migrant workers & expats who are being targeted or harassed in the light of Corona virus outbreak in Bangladesh.

They also appealed to the honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to ensure migrants get access to information and services in Bangladesh and facilitate those who wish to return to their country of settlement.

They said, Remittance are paramount to Bangladesh’s GDP’s growth. About 15 million Bangladeshi migrants are scattered across the globe sacrificing their hard labour for the country. Over 12 million Bangladeshi migrants send over $16 billion remittance annually and play an important role in Bangladesh’s economy.

In recent days a small number of migrants who returned to Bangladesh following outbreak of Corona virus caused panic among mass people of Bangladesh assuming that they were carrying the virus. Some of migrant workers who came back home on leave, were quarantined accordingly and got released with medical certificates. Civil Aviation authority requested migrants to stay home in self-isolation, but due to lack of awareness and lack of monitoring, a few of them did not stay at home causing risks to migrant’s family and community.

But with grave concern we are observing that in social media migrants are being blamed for bringing the corona virus from abroad. Unfortunately, as a result of this, returnee migrants are being humiliated and physically assaulted in many parts of Bangladesh. In addition to the returnee migrants, thousands of people including foreign workers returned home from abroad too.

In the media and some local government authorities, only migrants are being blamed for spreading the Corona virus, which has resulted in migrants being harassed in various ways. Police & magistrates are identifying the migrant’s houses with red flags. The administration is only banning migrants & those who are coming from abroad from going out. Migrants are facing hate crime and harassment at family and in the community, which is a violation of human rights.

We believe that such hatred would not have spread like ‘wild fire’ if the authorities concerned mentioned ‘people’ instead of using the word “Probashi”.

In recent days thousands of Bangladeshi migrants have lost their jobs in various countries around the world, including in Italy and Spain due to the outbreak of the Corona virus. Corona Virus has become pandemic worldwide and the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Corona as a pandemic on 11 March 2020. Like other countries of the world, the virus has affected Bangladesh too.

The signatories to the joint statement among others are Ansar Ahmed Ullah, President, European Bangladesh Forum (EBF), UK, Habib Babul, Chief Editor, Suddhoshor Dotcom, Germany, Bikash Chowdhury, Chairman, BASUG, Netherlands, AHM Abdul Hai, Chief Editor, Our Voice, Germany, Dr. Mojibur Doftori, writer and researcher, Finland, Sharaf Ahmed, journalist and social activist, Germany, Murad Khan, General Secretary, Bangladesh Awami League, Netherlands, M M R Monowar, social and human rights activist, UK, Khalilur Rahman, Country Coordinator, European Bangladesh Forum, Switzerland and Arun Barua, President, Minority Council, Switzerland.