Bangladesh's Libya evacuees keen to get back to work

Some 37,000 Bangladeshi migrant workers were evacuated from Libya, mostly by the International Organisation for Migration or their employers, when foreign companies shut up shop as fighting erupted earlier this year.

Before war broke out, tens of thousands of Bangladeshi contract workers were based in Libya, working mostly for large Korean companies on oil or infrastructure projects.

Globally, up to nine million Bangladeshis work overseas, sending back annual remittances totalling some $12 billion, which makes up 10 percent of annual Gross Domestic Product.

After the death of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in October, Bangladesh -- which has been hit hard by a fall in remittances due to unrest in the Arab world -- said it would send construction workers back to Libya.

The Dhaka government immediately opened discussions with the transitional authorities on a deal, and it says that many firms that employed Bangladeshi workers before the unrest have already got back in contact.

"A group of 38 Bangladeshi migrants who worked for an Italian firm before the war broke out has already left for Libya to join the company," overseas employment secretary Jafar Ahmed Khan told AFP.

"We've had talks with Libya and the companies where our labourers were before the war. They want to take Bangladeshi workers back. Libya will be a big job market for us as our workers have a good reputation."

Most Bangladeshi migrants find work through the country's 800 government licensed recruiting agencies. The agencies, which are not tightly regulated, are often accused of charging excessive fees.

The agents do not reimburse the fees paid to secure long-term contracts when things go wrong -- even when migrants like Matbar are forced to leave after a matter of months.

The government provided workers returning from Libya with a hand-out of 50,000 taka ($650) but it argues it has no power to force the recruiting agencies to forgive the debts.

The government's policy is to pressure recruitment agencies to give priority to Libya returnees for new contracts -- and they have also warned agents not to over-charge, said Ministry of Manpower secretary Zafar Ahmed Khan.

"It is a condition all recruiters must show they have met before we will give them approval on other issues," Khan said.

(Source: AFP)

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply