Clamouring to come back

DHAKA: Around 25,000 Bangladeshis who returned to their country from Malaysia face an uncertain future as Malaysia will not be taking in foreign workers till Dec 31 amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Visas of about 22,000 of the migrant workers have already expired as they have been waiting for the last eight months to return to their workplaces in Malaysia, said sources at the Foreign Ministry.

The stranded workers demonstrated in front of the Foreign Ministry, demanding that the government take diplomatic steps to get their visas renewed.

Though regular flights between Dhaka and Kuala Lumpur resumed recently, the workers could not go back to Malaysia as it is not taking in foreign workers as part of its measures to contain the spread of Covid-19.

“I returned home on vacation in February. But I couldn’t go back to my workplace in Malaysia due to suspension of regular flights in March.

“Though flights to Kuala Lumpur have resumed, I couldn’t fly due to the Malaysian government’s decision, ” said Kamrul Islam, a key organiser of the demonstrations.

Kamrul said he worked at a shop in Kuala Lumpur and his visa would be expiring on Nov 20.

“I will lose my job if I fail to return to Malaysia before my visa expires, ” he added.

Another migrant worker, Md Nazmul, said: “I couldn’t get any work here for the last nine months. I am in severe financial crisis. I have used up almost all of my savings. “My elderly parents and other family members depend on my earnings.

“We will have to starve if I fail to go back to Malaysia soon, ” Md Nazmul said.Five people representing the workers submitted a five-point memorandum to the ministry officials, calling for diplomatic efforts to persuade Kuala Lumpur to extend the visas of Bangladeshi workers, measures for ensuring their return to Malaysia soon and financial assistance for them.

Foreign secretary Masud Momen said “the ministry is not sitting idle”.

“We are trying our best to resolve the issue. But we don’t have any control over the Covid-19 situation, ” Masud added.

He also assured the Malaysia-bound workers that the Foreign Ministry would do everything in its capacity so that they can have their visas extended. — The Daily Star/ANN

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