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Global Experts Meeting on Migration in the Post-2015 Development Agenda

The Global Experts Meeting on Migration in the Post-2015 Development Agenda tookplace in the context of increasing recognition that migration is a key driver of sustainabledevelopment.

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IOM signs MoU with German Embassy for Document Verification

On January 19, 2015, IOM and the German Embassy signed a Memorandum of Understanding which gives IOM the authority to verify educational documents of applicants to various academic institutions of Germany for Undergraduate and Masters Programme.

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IOM continues to expand Migration Health Department

IOM provide Health Assessment services to immigrants bound to Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, and the United States, along with promoting the health of migrants and their host communities.

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Raising Migration Awareness through Street Theatre all over Bangladesh.

Using medium of street theatres and community meetings with potential migrants and local government officials at grass roots level, IOM has been raising awareness on key issues related to safe and orderly migration.

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Comprehensive Service Delivery for vulnerable population of Cox’s Bazar

Working together with Government of Bangladesh (GoB) increase access to Primary Health Care and Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services for vulnerable and hard to reach communities in Cox’s Bazar.

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National Consultation on Human Trafficking and Smuggling through the South East region of Bangladesh, December 9th, 2014

On December 9th, 2014, IOM together with UNHCR organized a National Consultation to discuss issues related to human trafficking and smuggling through the South East region of Bangladesh.

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OPENING OF CAFÉ JOYEETA

Café Joyeeta (previously Kafe Mukti), in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Mukti project, re-opened its Department of Women Affairs outlet this Tuesday, 4th March.

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New address of Migration Health Assessment Clinic - IOM MHAC

Message from the Chief of Mission

Over the centuries, migration has been one of the key factors of socio-economic development in South Asia. Read more...

IOM Global

An inter governmental organization established in 1951, IOM is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society.

  • Membership increased from 67 States in 1998 to 157 States in 2014 and continues to grow
  • IOM offices in more than 150 countries
  • Field Location increased from 119 in 1998 to more than 481
  • Active Projects increased from 686 in 1998 to more than 2,396 in 204
  • Operational Staff increased from approximately 1,100 in 1998 to more than 9,000 almost entirely in the Filed
  • Total expenditure increased from USD 242.2 million in 1998 to USD 2039 million in 2014
              For more information....

BANGLADESHI RETURNEES FROM LIBYA – LIVES IN THE BALANCE

In any other circumstance climbing the five flights of stairs in 40 degree heat several times a day would have been torture, but as I make my way up the stairs to the Verification Hub I am greeted by the smiling faces of the Bangladeshi returnees from Libya on their way down. They are smiling because they have just completed the in person verification – the last step in the cash disbursement programme, before their onetime cash grant of 50,000 taka is transferred to their accounts. It is not much really, when you consider the amount of money each of them had spent in going abroad in the first place or the amount of money they had had to leave behind in unpaid salaries, but it is the first step in the reintegration of the 36,594 Bangladeshi migrants who had fled the violence in Libya.

 

Since the beginning of the civil and political unrest in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region earlier this year in February, about 646,000 people have fled the conflict in Libya, resulting in one of the largest migration crises since the Gulf War in 1990. Out of the 646,000, approximately 299,000 are third country nationals (TCNs) – with Bangladeshi and Chadians making up 20 percent each of the total number. The next largest groups of TCNs include Egyptians and Sudanese, making up 18 and 12 percent of the total respectively. The task of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), UNHCR and its partners of providing shelter, immediate medical assistance, registration and most importantly arranging for repatriation of the TCNs proved to be monumental. At the height of the crisis, anywhere between 1,000 and 6,000 TCNs were pouring in through the borders into Tunisia and Egypt, and the numbers in the camps, with the total number of migrants as high as 20,000 in Tunisia alone. Even as TCNs were repatriated in thousands through a variety of means including chartered flights, ships and buses, the inflow remained higher than the number of departures.

 

During the first three weeks of March, Bangladeshi nationals were repatriated to Bangladesh in the thousands, with as many as 9 flights landing in the airport in Dhaka in a day, with an average of 5 to 6 flights daily. The returnees were greeted at the airport by IOM staff members who provided on arrival assistance round the clock, 7 days a week for the entire period. On arrival support included greeting the flights on the tarmac, assisting with the registration and immigration processing, immediate medical attention in addition to the support being provided by the Government of Bangladesh. The government provided each returnee with food and water on arrival, registered all returnees, gave 1,000 Taka for onward transport and also arranged for shuttle bus services to the main bus and train terminals in the city. The airport in Dhaka – the biggest in the country – was not equipped to handle the large number of arrivals in addition to the regular flights. Despite the logistical nightmare, constant liaison between IOM Dhaka, its field missions in Tunisia and Egypt and the Government resulted in a fairly systematic processing of all returnees. While most were exhausted beyond belief, they were none the less happy to have returned safely to their country and were eager to see their families. Most recognized IOM staff by the blue vests and expressed their gratitude for the support they received at the camps and then again at the airport.

 

All this was four/five months ago, and yet the crisis is not over. Even now people continue to pour into the bordering countries of Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Chad, Niger and even Italy and Greece albeit in much smaller numbers. Bangladeshi migrants also continue to trickle back into the country in much reduced numbers. The total number of returnees so far is 36,685 with another 35,000 expected to be inside Libya according to official figures. The unofficial estimates put this figure between 45,000 and 55,000. Those who have returned, have returned to large debts, left behind possessions and months worth of unpaid salary in Libya. Many only returned with the clothes they were wearing and perhaps a blanket, but many also had large suitcases filled with whatever they could carry. The story is not entirely bleak, during the height of the crisis the money exchange booths at the airport were running out of cash as the returnees exchanged their dinars and Egyptian pounds. The lucky few did manage to bring back a bit of cash, others brought back so little that the exchange booths would not exchange that – those of us who had made the airport our home during those few weeks have acquired a small collection of Libyan coins as we offered to buy whatever little they had off them.

 

As soon as the majority of the Bangladeshi migrants had returned safely to Bangladesh, talks about reintegration programmes began. The Government, civil society, international organizations and even the private sector held meetings in order to discuss ways in which the 36,658 returnees could be supported. The Government agreed that the returnees would be given priority for overseas employment opportunities, the private sector also agreed to employ some of the returnees – but this was not enough. Some returnees, perhaps a few thousand had already obtained overseas employment, and another few thousand found jobs in the country, but most still remained unemployed with little means of supporting themselves and their families. Ultimately, the Government obtained a loan of US$ 40 million from the World Bank through its IDA credit – the first time World Bank provided such a loan for an emergency project. With this loan, the Government reimbursed IOM for the air travel cost of 10,000 Bangladeshi returnees, given the large number of Bangladeshi returnees IOM had repatriated – approximately 31,053. With the rest of the loan, each Bangladeshi returnee from Libya is being provided with a onetime cash grant of 50,000 taka to meet their immediate needs.

 

Given IOM’s global experience in implementing such large scale cash disbursement programmes and particularly IOM Dhaka’s close involvement in the repatriation of the migrants, IOM was chosen to implement this programme on behalf of the Government. The reintegration programme is being implemented in several stages. Firstly, through an extensive outreach campaign the returnees were informed of the programme, necessary documents including the need for a personal bank account. A comprehensive database of all returnees was also developed by IOM from the registration conducted by the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) at the airport. Then, a call center was made operational from 9 July 2011, the numbers for which were disseminated through print and electronic media and direct SMS to returnees’ phone numbers obtained at the airport. Each returnee was directed to call the call center in order to obtain an appointment. From 23 July 2011 onwards, the Verification Center went into operation, with returnees with appointments turning up for in- person verification with all their relevant documents. This is the last step in the exhaustive process of identification of actual returnees – before the cash grant of 50,000 taka is transferred directly to their accounts.

 

They are grateful, grateful to IOM and the Government for ensuring their safe repatriation and for the cash grant. Even then, as I climb the stairs I hear a returnee lament the entire situation – his verification was successful, he will get the grant within three days, but his situation is still bleak. He owes over 150,000 Taka from financing his migration cost and he is still without a job. He wants to go abroad again for employment, but cannot afford to do so. Expectantly he asks whether we have any arrangements to send people abroad. At the shake of my head, he attempts a weak smile and thanks me, and continues to walk down the stairs.


Anita Jawadurovna Wadud

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