Past Events 2022

Roundtable Discussion: Ensuring Ethical Recruitment: Regularisation of Middlemen
Organised by: RMMRU in collaboration with the Parliamentarian Caucus on Migration and Development and Bangladesh Civil Society for Migrants (BCSM)
Date: 22 August 2022
Time: 3:00pm-6:00pm
Venue: Parliament Members’ Club, Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban, Agargaon

RMMRU in collaboration with the Parliamentarian Caucus on Migration and Development and Bangladesh Civil Society for Migrants (BCSM), organised a Roundtable Discussion on ‘Ensuring Ethical Recruitment: Regularisation of Middlemen on 22 August.2022 under the SIMS project of Helvetas supported by the Embassy of Switzerland. The programme was held at the Parliament Members’ Club in Jatiya Sangsad. The objective of the event w`as to accelerate the process of regularisation of the middlemen ahead of the TAWG of the Colombo Process and to ensure the corresponding legal framework. Prominent speakers highlighted the issue of addressing the needs to regularise sub-agents or middlemen in the labour migration sector in line with the relevant law to address fraudulence and ensure ethical recruitment practices. They also emphasised on the issue that middlemen need recognition as they play a vital role in sending workers abroad.Dr. Tasneem Siddiqui, Chairperson, Department of Political Science, Dhaka University and Founding Chair of RMMRU in her keynote presentation, shared three separate models of regularising sub-agents and placed those before the stakeholders. Referring to RMMRU’s previous study, Dr. Siddiqui mentioned that the sub-agents provide 17 different services to migrant workers. She stated that recruiting agencies also take the services of sub-agents but they "procure" that informally.

Barrister Shameem Haider Patwary, MP and Chairman of Parliamentary Caucus on Migration and Development chaired and moderated the event. Addressing the need for regularising sub-agents, he said “irregularities and false commitments while sending workers will decrease if the middlemen are brought under a regulation”. He further added that if the regularisation process of sub-agents were done earlier then the migration sector would be benefitted more and monitoring of sub-agents could help combating exploitation of migrant workers abroad.

Emphasising the importance of regularisation of sub-agents, Tanvir Shakil Joy, MP, stated that “the models shared at today’s roundtable can be scrutinised and the best among them maybe chosen for regularisation. The recruiting agencies may be held accountable as well in this case and this is to be monitored by BMET and the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment”.

Md. Sanowar Hossain, MP said, “The middlemen are working at the grass root level, but they don’t have the formal recognition”. He further emphasised that the sub-agents need to be treated with respect by the recruiting agencies and everyone involved. Because if they ever go on strike at the field level, the recruiting agency will not be able to send as many people they are sending abroad now. He said “regularisation is the urgent need at the moment. Honorable MP further added that a large number of workers migrate every year, however it needs to be identified that among those sent how many workers are actually skilled.

One of the sub-agents from Tangail who attended the programme urged that sub-agents should be enlisted by agencies and an identity card can also be issued. Another from Cumilla said, “My daughter asks me what is your profession? But I cannot tell her as people in my locality call me dalal. Whenever someone sent by me spends good time after going abroad people say God has blessed him but whenever someone is faced by tough times, the same people say it is my fault. So in my locality how can I be free of the title dalal and have a socially respectable identity please you decide.”

Shakirul Islam, Chairperson, OKUP said, “whenever it comes to celebration of sending large number of migrants abroad the first ones to join are the recruiting agencies. So if they can take credit for the good things then why they cannot be held liable as well when someone is deceived.”

Important stakeholders including honorable members of parliament and Parliamentarians' Caucus on Migration and Development were present during the programme and shared their views on the significance of regularisation of sub-agents. Md. Shahidul Alam, NDC, Director General, Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training was present as the special guest of the roundtable. Among others Nazia Haider from the Embassy of Switzerland in Bangladesh, Mr. Premangshu Shekhar Sarker, Helvetas Bangladesh, Syed Saiful Haque, Chairman, WARBE DF and Co-Chair BCSM, Akib Anwar, Winrock Int also took part in the programme and shared their opinions on the discussion.

Refresher Training for MRPC Members
Organised by Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU)
Date: 11 and 12 August 2022
Venue: Conference Room, Hotel Sea Crown, Cox’s Bazar

A two-day long orientation session and refreshing training for one of the key role players at the ground- the MRPC committee members in Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong with the support of Winrock International was organized by RMMRU on August 11-12, 2022. This programme was organized in order to enhance their knowledge and to revisit their role on managing cases, disseminating information, raising awareness, organising relevant training programmes and workshops and promoting safe migration through digital mobile application- SafeStep. Besides, the event was scheduled to include multiple intensive sessions on the importance of leadership skill, identifying challenges of working in the field and solutions, reinforcing the committee members' expertise and their concept of safe and orderly migration, among other topics.
 
Dr. Tasneem Siddiqui suggested that a continuous follow up and promotional activities are needed to accelerate the promotion of the mobile application. She also advised to involve the young community especially students. Dr. C R Abrar emphasized on the use and benefits of digital innovations and how to use it for motivating the migrants to be aware of their rights and to safely migrate. He also upheld the power of community towards achieving a goal for society’s betterment and motivated the MRPC members for their future ventures.
 
Along with the MRPC members, the migration experts; Dr. CR Abrar, Executive Director, RMMRU and Dr. Tasneem Siddiqui, Founding Chair, RMMRU, staff members from both RMMRU Tangail field and Head Office were present in the event. Sessions were conducted by Ms. Marina Sultana, Director, Programme, RMMRU, Nusrat Mahmood, Programme Manager, RMMRU; Mr. Akib Anwar, Community Mobilisation Manager from Winrock International, Nazma Akhter, Field Coordinator, Tangail, RMMRU and experts.

Participation at the International Migration Review Forum
Date: 17-20 May, 2022
Venue: United Nations Headquarters, New York

The first International Migration Review Forum was held on 17-20 May, 2022 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The Member States reviewed the progress made at the local, national, regional and global levels in implementing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) in the framework of the United Nations through a State-led approach and with the participation of all relevant stakeholders. This resulted in formation of an intergovernmentally agreed Progress Declaration.

A parallel event of global civil society titled People’s Migration Challenge was held from 14 to 20 May at nearby premises. This event was organised by Migrant Forum in Asia in collaboration with several regional and international networks.

Dr. C R Abrar, Executive Director of RMMRU attended as a Representative of Migrant Forum in Asia at the side event, “Fair Recruitment and Decent Work in the Bangladesh-Qatar Corridor: Lessons for International Cooperation” which is organised by Government of Qatar in collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh. Ms. Marina Sultana, Director of Programme of RMMRU also participated in the Forum.

The outcome of the International Migration Review Forum: Click here to download

National Consultation on “The deaths of migrant workers in the Gulf”
Organised by Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU)
Date: 23 March 2022
Venue: Hotel Six Seasons, Dhaka

The national consultation on ‘The Deaths of Migrant Workers in the Gulf’ was organised by Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) on 23 March 2022 at Hotel Six Seasons. The consultation was organised based on the report of Vital Signs, which was issued by a coalition of organisations, including RMMRU from Bangladesh and four others from India, Pakistan, Nepal, and the Philippines. The report is on the deaths of low-paid migrant workers in the Gulf States. The report called on their governments and those in the Gulf to urgently take steps to reduce the number of unnecessary migrant worker fatalities. On the available evidence, more than half of migrant worker deaths are not adequately explained as they are certified without reference to any underlying cause of death, instead of using terms such as “natural causes” or “cardiac arrest”. The report concludes that the most likely reason for this high rate of unexplained deaths is that there are serious and systemic issues with the manner in which the Gulf States investigate migrant worker deaths.

Dr C R Abrar made the keynote presentation in the consultation and noted that the competition among the countries of origin and perceived benefits of outward migration and the Gulf States’ effective use of economic and political leverage deter the origin states to collectively demand for better protection. He further said that in the absence of proper mitigating measures migrant workers are exposed to hard climatic conditions and protection against poor air quality. Shariful Hasan, Head of Migration at BRAC, emphasized the need for developing a module for the health protection of migrant workers in the pre-departure training manuals. Former Foreign Secretary, Touhid Hossain regretted that the sending countries have thus been unable to extract sufficient pressure on the countries of destination to ensure the protection of migrant workers. Ruling party MP, Tanvir Shakil Joy, highlighted the need for mobilizing the collective strength of the sending countries through various regional and international forums. Mehjabin Khaled, Secretary-General of Bangladesh Parliamentary Caucus of Migration, underscored the need for a public discussion on protection issues in the parliament. Barrister Jyortirmoy Barua of Nagorik reminded that conducting autopsy of all unnatural deaths of its national is the legal obligation of the Bangladeshi state. He also called for engaging the ILO and World Health Organization to ensure the health protection of workers in the destination countries.

Among others, Shahidul Haque, former foreign secretary, Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury of BAIRA, Dr Fayezul Hakim Lala of People’s Platform on Public Health, Saiful Haque of WARBE, journalist Shahidul Islam Choudhury, Sheikh Romana of BOMSA, and representatives of Wage Earners’ Welfare Board and BMET, participated in the discussion.

Dissemination workshop on the study “Impact of Migration on Transformation to Sustainability: Poverty and Development in Bangladesh”
Organised by RMMRU and mandated by SDC
Date: January 12, 2022
Venue: Hotel InterContinental, Dhaka

On January 12, Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) organised a hybrid dissemination workshop on the study “Impact of Migration on Transformation to Sustainability: Poverty and Development in Bangladesh”. The workshop took place both on online and offline platforms in which 47 guests joined through zoom and 50 more were present physically. In this workshop RMMRU presented the findings of a long running panel survey of over 6000 households, spanning 20 districts of Bangladesh. The study examines the sustainability of economic and social gains and implications of losses experienced by the households. Mr. Md. Shhahriar Alam M.P., the State Minister of Foreign Affairs attend as the Chief Guest. The Special Guests were Dr. Md. Habibur Rahman of Bangladesh Bank and Ms. Suzanne Mueller, Director of Cooperation and Acting Head of Mission of the Embassy of Switzerland.

The dissemination workshop was divided into three sessions. The inaugural was chaired by, Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman, former Adviser to the Caretaker Government of Bangladeh and the Working Session 1 and 2 were chaired by Mr. Md. Shahidul Haque, Former Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh and Md. Shahidul Alam, Director General, Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) respectively.

In the Working Session 1, Dr. C. Rashaad Shabab of the University of Sussex presented the key findings on Poverty Dynamics, Expenditure Growth and Migration. Dr. Mustafizur Rahman, Distinguished Fellow of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Professor Atonu Rabbani of BRAC University and Dr. Nashid Rizwana Monir, Deputy Secretary of Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment were the Panel Discussants and provided comments on the findings.

Dr. Ananta Neelim of the University of Tasmania presented the key findings on Transitions in Migration Status and Gender Differences at the Working Session 2. Professor Selim Raihan of University of Dhaka and SANEM and Ms. Tapati Saha, Programme Analyst of UN Women reflected on the key findings.

“Global GDP would be doubled if all those who wanted to migrate were able to migrate” said Mr. Md. Shhahriar Alam M.P., the State Minister. He also emphasised that women’s right to migrate should be honoured by creating a safe migration environment.

Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman, former Adviser to the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh felt the time has come for internal migrants to receive the same policy attention as that of international migrants.

Mr. Md. Shahidul Haque, Former Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh commended the research for bringing internal migration so strongly to the policy arena for the first time.

Ms. Suzanne Mueller, Acting Head of the Embassy of Switzerland stated that given the importance of migration in consumption smoothing and economic growth, among the bilateral donors, Switzerland is strongly committed to policy research on migration.

Some of the key messages of workshop include:

  • Migration enhances the economic sustainability of the household and helps households to withstand shocks triggered by pandemic and climate change related disasters. Migration enables these households them to achieve a greater degree of resilience than non-migrant household.
  • Female internal and international migrants come from more disadvantaged background, are more likely to be widowed and divorced and to have lower levels of education. Participating in migration reduces the unadjusted gender gap in earning.
  • Internal migration can be a core element of Bangladesh’s transformation to sustainability. Therefore investments in public services and facilities that support internal migrants such as low-cost transportation, accommodation and legal aid are likely to yield high social returns.

Full programme

International Migrants Day Observation and Inception Meeting of the SafeStep Project
Date: December 19, 2021
Organised by: Refugee and Migratory Movement Research Unit (RMMRU)
Supported by Winrock International
Venue: Kalihati Upazila Porishod Hallroom, Tangail

Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) organised a consultation programme to observe the International Migrants Day and inception meeting of the SafeStep project. The event was held on December 19, 2021 (Sunday) at the Kalihati Upazilla Porishod Hallroom with the support of Winrock International. The consultation programme was chaired by Mr Mobassher Alam, UNO, Kalihati, Tangail and moderated by Ms. Marina Sultana, Director Programme, RMMRU. Mr. Md. Ansar Ali, Chairman, Upazilla Parishad graced the event as the chief guest. Mr. Md. Azad Hossain, UP Chairman, Paikora; Mr. Md. Mokhlesur Rahman Khan,UP Chairman, Shahadebpur; Mr. Akhtaruzzaman, Vice Chairman, UP; Mr. Md. Jasimuddin, Upazilla Social Welfare Officer were presented as the special guest including 85 participants.  Migrant workers, family members of migrant households, entrepreneurs, teachers, religious leaders, journalist from project areas with RMMRU and Winrock International representatives attended the event as well.

The aim of the programme was to observe the International Migrants Day with the stakeholders and community people as well as introduce project ‘SafeStep: Expanding safe migration to the Bangladesh-Malaysia Corridor’ Project. The event informed about the SafeStep project’s working areas as well as project activities to the community members who play role in shaping public perspective and understanding.

A brief presentation was shared on the project activities and the SafeStep app with the participants. The discussion held in the event emphasized on the importance of safe migration and the recently signed MoU between Malaysia and Bangladesh where the issues of recruitment agency, sub-agents, migration cost, ethical recruitment, etc were being highlighted. There was an open discussion session in the programme where the participants shared their expectations from the project, exchanged opinions and offer suggestions. They also discussed about the main subject matter of this year’s International Migrants day 2021 and their commitment to work for the betterment of migrants in the community level.

Mr. Md. Azad Hossen, Chairman, Paikora Union said,

“Through RMMRU’s mediation, we successfully abled to get 45 lacs taka to the aggrieved migrant workers from the sub-agents. We hope the mediation activity will not be stopped as it has become a necessity.”

He also stated that, “Aspirant migrants who are eager to go to Malaysia are facing danger due to dealing with the sub-agents. We need to make them understand the value of safe-migration and let them know what benefits he can avail if he safely migrates through a regular channel.”

Mr. Md. Jashim Uddin, Upajilla Welfare Officer said,

“The SafeStep app will be a very useful tool to promote safe migration but it needs to be well promoted and circulated. People should have the opportunity to easily access the app so that they can access information, store their necessary migration related documents and understand their financial state through using its ‘budget calculator’ feature.”

He also highlighted the issues of sub-agent regularization, airfare cost and passport.

Mr. Md. Ansar Ali Chairman, Upazilla Parishad highlighted the significance of International Migrants Day in his speech and said, “This day is observed to realize the rights of the migrant workers and their entitlements.” He also highlighted the issues of human trafficking, fraudulence in the migration sector, government’s services, mediation etc. He said,

“RMMRU has been working very actively and transparently especially through organising mediation and many migrants had been benefitted from their activities which are really commendable. I request them to facilitate it in every union of Kalihati Upazilla. A day long training on the SafeStep mobile app needs to be arranged so that we can well aware of the usage of this app. This will able us to help people to get the benefits.” Giving importance on the regular and safe migration he said that, “We will co-operate to ensure that migrants send remittances legally. RMMRU works for the welfare of the people and we will support and encourage it work of SafeStep project so that it can be expedited.”

Mr. Mobassher Alam, UNO, Kalihati said that the International Migrants Day is being to ensure that migrants do not accept harassment and can work with dignity. This day has a lot of significance. He said, “The government and NGOs are working together to build a developing country. The government earns a lot of foreign exchange from remittances sent by expatriates. The SafeStep app and its features are compatible to work for the welfare of our expatriate workers besides government. It can play a leading role during migration.” 

Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) organised a consultation programme to observe the International Migrants Day and inception meeting of the SafeStep project. The event was held on December 19, 2021 (Sunday) at the Kalihati Upazilla Porishod Hallroom with the support of Winrock International. The consultation programme was chaired by Mr Mobassher Alam, UNO, Kalihati, Tangail and moderated by Ms. Marina Sultana, Director Programme, RMMRU. Mr. Md. Ansar Ali, Chairman, Upazilla Parishad graced the event as the chief guest. Mr. Md. Azad Hossain, UP Chairman, Paikora; Mr. Md. Mokhlesur Rahman Khan,UP Chairman, Shahadebpur; Mr. Akhtaruzzaman, Vice Chairman, UP; Mr. Md. Jasimuddin, Upazilla Social Welfare Officer were presented as the special guest including 85 participants.  Migrant workers, family members of migrant households, entrepreneurs, teachers, religious leaders, journalist from project areas with RMMRU and Winrock International representatives attended the event as well.

The aim of the programme was to observe the International Migrants Day with the stakeholders and community people as well as introduce project ‘SafeStep: Expanding safe migration to the Bangladesh-Malaysia Corridor’ Project. The event informed about the SafeStep project’s working areas as well as project activities to the community members who play role in shaping public perspective and understanding.

A brief presentation was shared on the project activities and the SafeStep app with the participants. The discussion held in the event emphasized on the importance of safe migration and the recently signed MoU between Malaysia and Bangladesh where the issues of recruitment agency, sub-agents, migration cost, ethical recruitment, etc were being highlighted. There was an open discussion session in the programme where the participants shared their expectations from the project, exchanged opinions and offer suggestions. They also discussed about the main subject matter of this year’s International Migrants day 2021 and their commitment to work for the betterment of migrants in the community level.

Mr. Md. Azad Hossen, Chairman, Paikora Union said,

 “Through RMMRU’s mediation, we successfully abled to get 45 lacs taka to the aggrieved migrant workers from the sub-agents. We hope the mediation activity will not be stopped as it has become a necessity.”

He also stated that, “Aspirant migrants who are eager to go to Malaysia are facing danger due to dealing with the sub-agents. We need to make them understand the value of safe-migration and let them know what benefits he can avail if he safely migrates through a regular channel.”

Mr. Md. Jashim Uddin, Upajilla Welfare Officer said,

“The SafeStep app will be a very useful tool to promote safe migration but it needs to be well promoted and circulated. People should have the opportunity to easily access the app so that they can access information, store their necessary migration related documents and understand their financial state through using its ‘budget calculator’ feature.”

He also highlighted the issues of sub-agent regularization, airfare cost and passport.

Mr. Md. Ansar Ali Chairman, Upazilla Parishad highlighted the significance of International Migrants Day in his speech and said, “This day is observed to realize the rights of the migrant workers and their entitlements.” He also highlighted the issues of human trafficking, fraudulence in the migration sector, government’s services, mediation etc. He said,

“RMMRU has been working very actively and transparently especially through organising mediation and many migrants had been benefitted from their activities which are really commendable. I request them to facilitate it in every union of Kalihati Upazilla. A day long training on the SafeStep mobile app needs to be arranged so that we can well aware of the usage of this app. This will able us to help people to get the benefits.” Giving importance on the regular and safe migration he said that, “We will co-operate to ensure that migrants send remittances legally. RMMRU works for the welfare of the people and we will support and encourage it work of SafeStep project so that it can be expedited.”

Mr. Mobassher Alam, UNO, Kalihati said that the International Migrants Day is being to ensure that migrants do not accept harassment and can work with dignity. This day has a lot of significance. He said, “The government and NGOs are working together to build a developing country. The government earns a lot of foreign exchange from remittances sent by expatriates. The SafeStep app and its features are compatible to work for the welfare of our expatriate workers besides government. It can play a leading role during migration.”