1

C R Abrar, Inzamul Haque and Nazmul Haque
Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit

Soon after the outbreak of COVID-19, countries like India, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Philippines have
experienced the return of large number of migrant workers. Under duress from the countries of
destination, the countries of origin reluctantly became party to repatriation (in effect deportation)
procedures conducted hastily without any redress mechanism. Such procedures have been put in
place when courts and other dispute settlement mechanisms in the countries of destination remained
closed. Without ensuring due diligence to protect and fulfill the human rights and labour rights of
repatriated migrant workers, states became complicit in overseeing procedures where tens of
thousands of workers were returned without getting their earned wages and not securing justice.
Those workers were not provided with any document (contract, pay slip, attendance roll and the like)
by their employers through which in future they can lodge legitimate claims for compensation for the
deprivation of entitlements. A significant proportion of those workers faced situations of debt
bondage as they had to return empty handed. While the workers endured major hardship without
any possibility of redress, unplanned facilitation of ‘repatriation’ freed the employers from any
accountability.
This Policy Brief presents findings of the experience of Bangladeshi workers from 6 Gulf countries who
endured wage theft and returned after February 2020. The interview schedule was prepared in
consultation with Migrant Forum in Asia and Centre for Development Studies (CDS,
Thiruvananthapuram. Kerala, India). A total of 1160 returnee workers in 45 districts constituted the
research subjects. Seven member organizations of Bangladesh Civil Society for Migrants (BCSM)
participated in conducting the mixed method survey: in person and online.1 The interviews of
returnee migrants were held during the period March 25 to May 6, 2021.

1

Bangladeshi BFF, BOMSA, WARBE DF, BASTOB, YPSA, CCDA, Rights Jessore and RMMRU

Select target paragraph3