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Speaking to Prothom Alo, Saudi-bound migrant Tofazzel Hossain from Shariatpur said a recruiting agency has demanded an additional Tk 70,000. It is not possible for him to pay the extra money, he said.

Owners of recruiting agencies, however, said the ticket prices are high. The migrants have to pay hotel costs and coronavirus test fees. Saudi employers are not willing to pay the cost of quarantine. As a whole the migration cost has multiplied.

The recruiters said a Saudi-bound migrant has to spend Tk 300,000 to Tk 350,000. The amount will cross Tk 400,000 due to hotel costs.

Recruiting Agency Oikya Parishad president Tipu Sutan said the migrants can be supported from the welfare fund if the government wants. Steps can be taken to vaccinate migrants on priority basis.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Biman shut flights with Saudi Arabia from 20 May due to new restrictions imposed by the oil rich country.

Bangladesh Biman public relations department said flights with Saudi Arabia will resume after the quarantine package is ensured. Bangladeshi expats said they need additional Tk 60,000 to Tk 70,000 for quarantine purposes.

Several thousand migrants have been stranded in Bangladesh due to irregular flights.

Airlines agencies have declared new packages for travelling to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Airlines has fixed Tk 140,000 under new package. Oman Airlines Salam Air has fixed Tk 120,000 while Sri Lanka Air Tk 115,000. However, Biman and Emirates have not declared any new package. Those who bought tickets earlier have to pay quarantine costs.

Director general of the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET), which deals with the overseas employment, Md Shamsul Alam, said restrictions imposed by the respective countries have to be complied. The issue of financial support will be included in the agenda for discussion in next meeting of Wage Earners' Welfare Board, he added.

In a Facebook group 'We Saudi Arabia Expatriate Bangladeshis', Mizanur Rahman writes an institutional quarantine is mandatory if 14 days are not passed after second dose of coronavirus vaccine. For this it needs Tk 66,000 in Riyadh and Tk 54,000 to Tk 60,000 in Jeddah.

Founding chair of the non-government research organisation on the migration sector RMMRU, Tasneem Siddique, said the destination country or both must negotiate and meet the additional expenses rather than putting pressure of additional costs on the migrants.

*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam

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