20/04/2021 Migrant Workers Stuck Home: Drowning in debt | The Daily Star His monthly income in Saudi Arabia had been around Tk 50,000, but he had to send home the lion's share of his earnings as his seven-member family depended on his remittance. For all latest news, follow The Daily Star's Google News channel. With his meagre savings already exhausted on family expenses, the 42-year-old from Noakhali took a bank loan of Tk 1 lakh and invested the money to set up a small shoe factory in his area. The factory, however, did not do well, forcing him to shut it down. Nazim also had to borrow around Tk 3 lakh, in phases, from relatives as he hasn't been able to find a job yet. Now, he is worried sick about how to come out of the debt trap. "I don't know what I should do now," he said. Like Nazim, many returnees are facing a debt cycle after they borrowed money in the face of economic hardship created by the pandemic. With little or no income, these returnees are in despair, struggling to repay their debts and manage household expenses. Around 3.76 lakh migrant workers returned home between April 1 and December 17 last year amid the pandemic, according to government data. International Organisation for Migration (IOM), in its recent survey report, showed the debt burden on the migrant workers and the challenges of reintegration. The report, titled "Rapid Assessment Round 2: Needs and Vulnerabilities of Internal and International Return Migrants in Bangladesh", found that around 69 percent of 875 returnee migrants from abroad and their households are in debt. Some 28 percent returnees from abroad have debt higher than Tk 2 lakh and over 50 percent have debt higher than Tk 1 lakh, it said. The survey on returnees was conducted in 12 high return-migration districts in August and September last year. The report found 64 percent of the returnees from abroad unemployed. 'OVERWHELMED WITH DEBT' Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world early last year, many Bangladeshi workers returned home in large numbers, either after job losses or seeing no job opportunities https://www.thedailystar.net/backpage/news/migrant-workers-stuck-home-drowning-debt-2079821 2/7

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