Bangladeshis have been ranked as the 6th source of international migrators across the world, according to the figures published by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs recently.
Through three decades, the number of Bangladeshi immigrants, most of them workers in the Middle East countries on a temporary immigration basis, has increased by 40 per cent.
Many have taken permanent immigration to USA, Canada, UK, and Australia hoping for a better life. Indians have ranked first in the number of immigrants, with around 17.5 million migrators while Mexico, China, Russia and Syria were ahead of Bangladesh.
The number of global migrants turned 272 million in 2019. Other than job or expectations of a better life, conflicts force people to migrate or seek refuge. According to the United Nations, among the top five migration destinations of US, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Russia and the UK, the number of worker immigrates are the highest in Saudi Arabia.
"We have failed to provide jobs for the youth as per their choice and this is why they are migrating as workers abroad, " AB Mirza Azizul Islam, finance advisor of former caretaker government, told Prothom Alo adding, "employment has decreased in the local production sector and the proportion of unemployment is the highest among the educated."
He said, "Those who are migrating for a lack of profession by choice here are contributing to the economy by sending remittance." He also observed that the condition of the families now raised above the poverty line would not have been so if the youths would not migrate and had not sent the remittance.
The number of youths migrating from Bangladesh has increased. As per the UN figures, the average age is 30 years which was above 34, nine years ago. This indicates youth are migrating due to a lack of jobs.
The report also said around 800,000 Bangladeshis went abroad for employment during the 90’s and this has risen to 2.1 million. Two-thirds among the total Bangladeshi immigrants are eligible for work aging between 20 and 64 years. They send remittance of various amounts.
Most of the migrants’ sent abroad are mostly unskilled workers. Mirza Azizul stressed sending skilled and expert workers. He gave the example of Rajiv Gandhi during whose term huge number of Indian youths who studied information technology was migrating to countries including US, UK. When asked regarding the loss of the country Rajiv answered it was a ‘saving scheme which would benefit in the future'. The expats later returned to the country and used their experience to develop the software industry at Bengaluru.
Bangladeshis are not only migrants, but international migrants too come here. According the UN, 932,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar have migrated to Bangladesh making it the second top shelter country in South Asia. The number was below 100,000 in the 90’s.
With 1.4 million refugees, Pakistan tops the South Asian countries to shelter the highest number of refugees.
*This report, originally appearing in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Nusrat Nowrin.