TOGETHER FOR A JUST WORLD
South Asia • Bangladesh

Safe migration in Bangladesh

Hundreds of thousands of people from Bangladesh leave their home country every year to work abroad. The conditions under which many migrants have to work and live are usually catastrophic. In order to improve their situation, AWO International, together with the local partner organization WARBE, is implementing a project for safe migration in Bangladesh.

The working conditions of many migrants are often precarious. Here: Migrant workers at a protest action. (Photo: WORBE)The working conditions of many migrants are often precarious. Here: Migrant workers at a protest action. (Photo: WORBE)

For many people in Bangladesh, migration has become a survival strategy - in a country that has made a lot of progress but is still one of the poorest in the world. Migration seems to be a way out to achieve some prosperity. The remittances of migrants are of central importance for the economy in Bangladesh. With 15 billion US dollars in 2015, they are the third largest source of foreign exchange after the textile industry and agriculture. Most migrants go abroad as unskilled workers. While a few years ago it was primarily men who left the country, about 20 percent of the migrants are now women. About 80 percent migrate to Arab countries, another 15 percent to South and Southeast Asia.

The exploitation of many migrants often begins even before their departure: Many are recruited by dubious middlemen who demand horrendous sums for their "services". The people get into debt and become dependent. The situation of migrant workers in the destination countries is often catastrophic; they are exploited, do not receive the agreed wages, work under inhumane and dangerous conditions. In addition, in many countries they are de facto without rights. In Qatar, for example, where the Kafala system prevails, migrants need an employer in the country to vouch for them and without whose permission they are not allowed to leave the country or seek other work. They are at the mercy of the employer and enter into a kind of debt bondage.

Information and advice for labour migrants

To improve the situation of migrant workers, we have been working with our partner WARBE Development Foundation in Bangladesh since 2012. WARBE was founded by returning Bangladeshi migrant workers and has since become one of the central actors in the country's migration policy.

As part of the joint project, three Migration Information Centres were opened in the particularly affected districts of Comilla, Tangail and Chittagong. Here, potential migrants, returnees and family members receive information and advice on all relevant issues concerning safe migration. In addition, WARBE offers training bettering the preparation of potential migrants for their departure, as well as three-month training courses to improve the participants' skills so that they can find qualified jobs.

In addition to its educational and information work, WARBE also acts as a mouthpiece for migrants vis-à-vis government institutions, lobbying and advocacy. At national level, state actors must be held more accountable to improve the situation of migrants.

Project information

ProjectSafe migration in Bangladesh
Place/RegionProject activities throughout Bangladesh, lobby and advocacy work in Dhaka
PartnerWARBE (Welfare Association for the Rights of Bangladeshi Emigrants )
Target group

Migrants, potential migrants and returning migrants, relatives

Activities
  • Awareness raising on safe migration
  • Establishment of two information centres on migration
  • Income generating measures for potential migrant workers
  • Lobbying of state and other relevant actors
  • establishment of arbitration and legal advice centres
  • Exchange with international networks and global forums
  • Implementing efficient migrant rights
  • Further education and training of civil society and state actors
Duration2017-2019
Budget35.000 Euro p.a.
SponsorBMZ

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