We Demand Humanitarian Behavior, Not Hatred With Migrants

(Dhaka/Bangladesh, 30 March 2020) –The Films 4 Peace Foundation, together with the BASUG -Diaspora and Development, BOMSA, INFAI Bangladesh, CWCS Bangladesh, BOAF and the undersigned organisations, are gravely concerned with the lack of migrant rights focus in the current response to the ongoing COVID‐19 pandemic by the Government of the People Republic of Bangladesh.

COVID-19 has today become pandemic worldwide and the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 as a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Like other countries of the world, the virus has affected Bangladesh At the time of writing this report, (March 25, 2020, 12:30 PM GMT+6) 4,23,121 people worldwide were infected with the Novel Corona virus and 18,919 died. source

According to a report from the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) in Bangladesh, 39 people have been infected and out of them 5 died. On 23 March 2020, IEDCR report mentioned that 13 of the identified cases are migrants - who recently returned home, the rest were reported to have come under contact of those migrants and got infected. sourceBesides, globally Bangladeshi migrants have been infected with the Novel Corona virus and some have died. We do not have any information about the numbers Bangladeshi migrants are in quarantine both at home and abroad.

In recent days thousands of Bangladeshi migrants lost their jobs in various countries around the world, including in Italy and Spain due to the outbreak of the Novel Corona virus. Recently, migrants have been stranded at the airports in different countries of the world due to limited/ shut down of the air communication.

We know that more than 10 million Bangladeshi migrants are working in different countries of the world and more than $ 16 billion remittance is sent back annually to Bangladesh through official channels that are playing a crucial role in turning Bangladesh’s economy into a middle income country. source

In recent days a small number of migrants returned to Bangladesh following the outbreak of Novel Corona virus which caused among mass people of Bangladesh assuming that they (returnee migrants) were carrying the virus. Civil Aviation authority requested migrants to stay home in Self-Quarantine, but due to lack of awareness and lack of monitoring, few of them did not stay at home causing risks to the migrants’ family and the community.

With grave concern we observe that in social media, the government and citizens have spread rumors that it is the migrants who are responsible for bringing the coronavirus from abroad, which is not true. Unfortunately, people gave in to such remours and returnee migrants are being humiliated and physically assaulted in many parts of Bangladesh.

But in addition to the returnee migrants, thousands of people including foregin workers and the mayor of Sylhet City Corporation, MP of the Cox's Bazar-1 constituency, returned home from abroad including Britain and Saudi Arabia. These parliamentarians, mayors, migrants and all others are very much alike; none of them strictly maintained home quarantine. But in the media and government announcements, only migrants are being blamed for spreading the Corona virus, which has resulted in migrants being harassed in various ways. Police are identifying the migrant’s houses with red flags. The administration is only banning the migrants from going public and those who are coming from abroad recently but are not staying at the address mentioned in the passport, have been asked to contact the police headquarters. It seems that in the last one month, no one has returned except the migrants. As a result, migrants are facing hate crime and harassment at family and also in the community which is a violation of human rights. We are concerned that the Ministry of Overseas Employment' and Welfare has not taken any initiative in this regard.

We believe that such hatred would not have spread like wild fire be spread if the authorities concerned mentioned ‘people’ instead of using the word “migrant” as they have recently come from overseas and asked them to stay in Self-Quarantine.

We are appealing to the Government of Bangladesh to consider this issue from a human rights perspective and prevent the outbreak of the Novel Corona virus. We are requesting for protection of the rights of migrants through ensuring their access to information and services (including hand sanitizer, mask) at home and destination.

We are demanding to the Ministry of Migrants' Welfare and Overseas Employment to take necessary steps to inform and aware about Novel Corona virus and with health support through the Bangladesh Embassies.

In this regard, we demand for:

  • Humanitarian behavior, not hatred with migrants;
  • Respect human rights, fundamental freedoms, and human dignity as well as to abide with international human rights standards and principles when implementing measures to address the COVID‐19 pandemic;
  • Provide free and high quality tests, treatment, and care to all people including migrant affected by the pandemic, including marginalized groups and undocumented populations;
  • Facilitate regular and transparent access to accurate, timely, and comprehensive information to the public regarding the disease, including the risk of transmissio, prevention, and governmental efforts to address the situation;
  • Provide holistic measures, through law, policy, and practice, to uphold and ensure workers' and migrant workers’ rights, welfare, safety, and security, regardless of legal status, in response to the COVID‐19 threat; and
  • No discrimination or hatred towards anyone, no one should be excluded.

We urge the international community to sincerely seek to address the problems that migrants are constantly facing problems.

Let's all fight the Novel Corona virus and build a peaceful world together!!!

On behalf of the civil society

Endorsed by:

  1. Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)
  2. AWAZ Foundation
  3. BASUG -Diaspora and Development
  4. BOMSA
  5. BOAF
  6. CWCS Bangladesh
  7. INAFI Bangladesh
  8. Migration News.com
  9. Probashi Poribar Porishad, UAE
  10. YPSA

Films 4 Peace Foundation

About APMM

The COVID-19 Migrant Monitor is an urgent action campaign providing timely and appropriate information relating to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and its impact on migrants.