'Back empty-handed': Bangladeshis cut off from jobs abroad face rising poverty | Remittances | The Guardian

For years, Bangladeshi migrant workers have supported their families back home
and their remittances have been vital to keeping entire communities out of extreme
poverty, as the government has tried to meet the UN’s 2030 sustainable
development goals.
But after hundreds of thousands of migrant workers lost their jobs because of
Covid-19’s economic impact, government research suggests that they and their
families are returning to the poverty they tried to escape.
A year ago, Begum was earning 22,000 Bangladeshi taka (£190) each month working
for a Saudi doctor, sending almost all of it to her husband or her parents, to repair
houses, buy land and pay medical bills.
“Now there is no income. I am having a hard time meeting our family’s monthly
expenses,” she says. “We’re surviving by taking loans from my relatives. I owe them
about 150,000 taka. I don’t know how this money will be repaid.”

Firoza Begum returned to her village in the Patuakhali district of Bangladesh after escaping an abusive employer in the
Middle East. Photograph: Rafiqul Islam Montu

The government has encouraged work abroad. Remittances were worth $15bn
(£11bn) a year and helped reduce poverty in rural areas, supporting families and
financing small business.
By last April however, remittances were at their lowest for a decade, according to
the central bank, and the protracted crisis is pushing back Bangladesh’s progress on


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