POST TIME: 3 August, 2017 00:00 00 AM
undocumented expats in 34 countries
1.5 lakh Bangladeshis face threat of ouster
The government will sign a standard operating procedure (SOP) with the EU to bring such expatriate Bangladeshis back home

1.5 lakh Bangladeshis  face threat of ouster

It is bad news for the country, as at least 1,50,000 “undocumented” Bangladeshi expatriates currently staying in 34 countries, including the USA, UK, EU and the Middle East, are facing the threat of ouster. Of them, 93,000 Bangladeshi nationals are likely to come back from EU countries, 50,000 from Saudi Arabia, and the rest from 32 other nations.

Over 50,000 Bangladeshis intend to return home from Saudi Arabia. Of them, 45,000 have been able to complete their exit procedures in the Middle Eastern country.

To send back the large number of Bangladeshis expatriates, the immigration departments of these countries, including the US department of homeland security, US immigration and customs enforcement, the immigration departments of the EU and the immigration departments of countries of the Middle East, recently handed over lists of the ‘undocumented Bangladeshis’ to the foreign affairs ministry and the home ministry.

The EU authorities have threatened to impose restrictions on the issue of Schengen visa to Bangladeshi travellers if the country failed take back undocumented Bangladeshis, facing expulsion from European countries. The government will sign a standard operating procedure (SOP) with the EU to bring such expatriate Bangladeshis back home.

The authorities have already prepared a draft SOP to establish effective and transparent procedures for the identification as well as safe and orderly return of the people who do not have the authorisation to enter or stay in the EU countries. In this context, the authorities are chalking out plans on ways to absorb the expatriates once they return.

Talking to The Independent, a senior official of the foreign affairs ministry said the government has in principle decided to take back its unauthorised migrants from abroad after verifying their nationality.

Jabed Ahmed, additional secretary of the expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment ministry, told this correspondent that they are trying to find a way out by discussing with the countries concerned to enable expatriate Bangladeshis, known as ‘undocumented people’, stay on.

“We'll try to send the Bangladeshi expatriates abroad after their return,” he said.

“If somebody refuses to go back, we'll try to find ways to utilise their skills in the country,” he added.

Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) vice-president Md Abdul Hye said a number of undocumented Bangladeshis staying abroad may return. “I personally think that the government should step up diplomatic efforts so that some undocumented people can stay back and not deported,” he added. Sources in the home ministry said the government has recently received lists of 12,206 ‘undomented Bangladeshis’ from 34 countries including India, Myanmar, Malaysia, Pakistan, Thailand, the UK, Australia, the USA, the KSA, Turkey, Italy, Indonesia, Gambia and Nigeria.

The home ministry has forwarded the lists to the Special Branch of Police to ascertain their nationality, they added.

The sources said that a number of Bangladeshi expatriates staying in different countries, including the USA, have returned home recently.

Sources in the expatriate ministry said nearly one crore Bangladeshi workers are engaged in different sectors in 162 countries. At present, Bangladesh earns remittances worth USD 15 billion per year through manpower export.

A total of 756,000 Bangladeshi nationals were sent to different countries in 2016. Of them, 189,000 were destined for Oman, while 144,000 went to Saudi Arabia.