11 nations unite to fight malpractice

April 22, 2011

Miseries of Migrant Workers
11 nations unite to fight malpractice
Eleven Asian labour-sending countries yesterday agreed to eliminate shady practices in labour migration process and any discrimination against migrant workers.
This was stated in the 10-point Dhaka Declaration the nations adopted after a two-day ministerial consultation on contractual labour migration, known as Colombo Process, at a hotel in the capital.
“We want to ensure dignity of migrants at every stage of migration,” Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain told reporters at a press briefing.
The dialogue recommended addressing the specific needs and concerns of the vulnerable groups of migrants, especially the women and low-skilled workers.
Taking note of the adverse impacts of the recent political unrest in the Arab World, the meeting suggested preparing a guideline and increasing institutional capacity to evacuate stranded migrants faster and compensate them.
It also favoured exploring ways to address the problem of displacement of people caused by climate change.
The recommendations are not binding, but accepting these means all the 11 countries would follow them, mentioned Mosharraf.
“These Asian nations would meet biennially to strengthen the dialogue process and implement the suggestions,” he added.
Delegates from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Southeast Asian nations, who recruit workers, also attended the consultation as observers. International Organisation for Migration (IOM) provided secretarial support to the event.
IOM Director General William Lacy Swing said migration has become a crucial issue for all because of growing disparities between the developed and developing nations and demographic changes.
He urged all to work for responsible, orderly and humane migration.
Appreciating the recommendations, the United Arab Emirate’s (UAE) Undersecretary for Labour Affairs Mubarak Saeed Aldhaheri said they were also drafting a regional legal document to stop malpractices in the sector. Mubarak represented the GCC at the meeting.
Ministers and high officials of Afghanistan, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand attended the meeting, hosted and chaired by Bangladesh.
The declaration is significant for these Asian countries, as around 3 million people in Asia leave for jobs abroad each year. An estimated 7 million Bangladeshis are working abroad and each year about half a million add to this number.
However, visa trading by manpower brokers, high migration cost, fraudulences in travel documents, deviation of job contracts in the destination countries and low and non-payments have been the sector’s overarching issues, which remain unresolved for years.
The Colombo Process started in 2003. After meeting in the following two years, there had been a five-year-long gap before the dialogue resumed in Dhaka.
IOM Director from Geneva Shahidul Haque, Expatriates’ Welfare Secretary Zafar Ahmed Khan and Director General of Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training Khurshed Alam Chowdhury were present.


Courtesy of The Daily Star

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