The arrival of yet another group of Bangladeshis last week as deportees from Greece accentuates the vulnerability of the unemployed youth in the country. Having tried all avenues, many of them get allured by the promises of regular work and good pay in a foreign country given by the agents of human traffickers. In their desperation for financial support from the Bangladesh government, the deportees from Greece staged a sit-in and token hunger strike in front of Jatiya Press Club in Dhaka on January 3. They narrated their story before the media saying some of them had paid the agents Tk 13-14 lakh to go to Greece.
It was quite perturbing to learn that some of them went to the Middle East a couple of years back, but as their employers did not pay them for two months, they decided to go to Greece—some fellow migrant workers had told them that the European countries offered better opportunities. The group of deportees said that local traffickers took about 70 illegal migrants, including 20 Bangladeshis, on a two-week hectic journey to enter Greece from Turkey via an illegal route. They endured immense hardships, often having to walk up to 20 hours a day through the jungle and mountainous roads, and even crossing a river on a plastic boat. The final chapter of their sad saga began when, after about two months, they were caught by the Greek police for illegal entry into the country and working as undocumented workers. About 18 of the Bangladeshis were sent to a detention center, and after about 15 months, were deported back to Bangladesh.
Malaysian Immigration Department arrested 309 undocumented migrants, including 102 Bangladeshi, during an integrated operation carried out at a settlement near a construction site in Dengkil in June 2021.
It may be mentioned here that deportation of illegal migrants happens on a regular basis, but despite wide coverage in the print and electronic media, young men from our country continue to seek illegal migration to the EU and other rich countries in search for a better life. The community members, we feel, have a role to play in collecting information regarding the fate of those who have already set out for the unknown destinations. They should remain informed through the media about migration laws of different countries, and take caution when manpower agents come with unusual offers of good jobs abroad.
The department of social welfare, local government officials, UNO's office and the police should help the young men and women in verifying the job offers and checking the identities of the agents. Moreover, the government should help the returnees with whatever aid is necessary, as well as seek to establish lawful channels for them to work legally in countries like Greece.