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IOM releases results of largest survey on drivers of migration in Bangladesh

International Organisation of Migration (

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in coordination with the Government of Bangladesh earlier this month (10 July) released the report, Bangladesh: Survey on Drivers of Migration and Migrants’ Profiles which is the first to cover the country as a whole. Interviews were conducted in all 64 districts of the country reaching over 11,000 potential migrants who were arranging to migrate internationally.

Along with unpacking the nuances of what drives people to migrate, the research also presented the demographic and socioeconomic profiles of potential migrants. Previous studies on the drivers of migration in Bangladesh had been targeted and more limited in scope and scale.

The report found that the majority of potential migrants were young, working age men who had attained at least some level of formal education. Forty per cent of potential migrants were unemployed before electing to migrate, and 90 per cent had no personal income or insufficient income.

The report noted that Bangladeshi regular and irregular potential migrants are very similar. A general perception of migration in Bangladesh has been that irregular migrants are younger, less well educated and less likely to be employed. Instead, the report found that regular and irregular potential migrants are the same ages and have similar levels of education.

The key drivers of migration identified in the report were that most potential migrants were planning to migrate because they wanted better job opportunities and livelihoods. Another important reason for migration was to increase potential migrants’ social statuses.

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The same things drew potential migrants to specific countries: the availability of jobs, access to social networks or the migration of a family member. The Middle East was the most popular destination, with Saudi Arabia the most popular country.

The report also debunked the widely held perception that migrants leave countries in the Global South to travel to countries in the Global North. But, as indicated in the data, this is not the case in Bangladesh. Instead, migration is predominately South – South, with most migrants going to countries in the Middle East or elsewhere in Asia.

Only 1.4 per cent of the respondents expressed interest in migrating to Europe and the Americas. Potential migrants were asked whether they would consider remaining in Bangladesh if certain changes took place, and, according to the survey, 91 per cent of potential migrants surveyed would consider staying in Bangladesh if there were more work opportunities.

Regular potential migrants were more likely to be unemployed than irregular potential migrants (42 per cent of regular potential migrants compared to 37 per cent of irregular). While the general perception is that irregular migrants make use of migration facilitators and their services, the findings from the study indicate that 71 per cent of migrants, who have registered their intention to travel with the government, also use migration facilitators to arrange their travel.

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These potential migrants paid similar amounts to migration facilitators as the irregular migrants did. While regular potential migrants who only paid the government had low migration costs, the additional costs that some potential migrants paid to migration facilitators made the total costs paid by regular and irregular potential migrants comparable overall.

The largest amount paid (to a migration facilitator) was BDT 1.6 million (USD 18,857). Potential migrants to Europe and the Americas and the Middle East paid more to migrate than those going to other destinations. The average amount irregular potential migrants reported paying was BDT 229,488 (USD2,705), and 10 per cent of irregular migrants paid less than BDT 50,000 (USD 589).

The role of migrant networks was prominent during the preparatory arrangements of the respondents’ migration. Over 65 per cent of the potential migrants reported to have friends or extended family living in their potential destination country, many of which supported with documents, finding employment, financial support, transport and accommodation.

IOM’s Chief of Mission in Bangladesh, Giorgi Gigauri, expressed hope that “this important research will contribute to the evidence platform that we need for effective policymaking in Bangladesh.”

The report presents pre COVID-19 dynamics, however, the comprehensive analysis of drivers of migration and profiles of potential migrants will provide a baseline, which can be used to understand migration in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as well.

Bangladesh is the sixth largest origin country for international migrants in the world, with 7.5 million Bangladeshi migrants living abroad as of 2019, according to the World Migration Report, 2020. Due to the importance of international migration to the country, the Government of Bangladesh has prioritized migration as a development strategy in its 7th Five Year Plan (2016-2020), and evidence-based policy formulation and programming is a key to achieve better migration management in any context.

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This research is part of a series of reports funded by the European Union under the collaborative project Regional Evidence for Migration Analysis and Policy (REMAP) under the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) whose objective is to strengthen the evidence-based formulation and implementation of humanitarian and development policy and programming on migration in Bangladesh, as well as Afghanistan, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq and Pakistan.

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Netherlands, IOM launch Global Migration Initiative to protect people on the move

COMPASS will provide vulnerable migrants including victims of trafficking and unaccompanied or separated children access to a broad range of protection and assistance services.

 The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands launched the Cooperation on Migration and Partnerships for Sustainable Solutions initiative (COMPASS) at the beginning of 2021. COMPASS is a global initiative, in partnership with 12 countries, designed to protect people on the move, combat human trafficking and smuggling, and support dignified return while promoting sustainable reintegration.

The initiative is centred on a whole-of-society approach which, in addition to assisting individuals, will work across all levels – households, communities, and the wider communities – and encompasses the following partner countries: Afghanistan, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, and Tunisia.

“We want to mobilize families, peers and communities to encourage informed and safe migration decisions, protect migrants, and help those returning home reintegrate successfully,” said Monica Goracci, Director of the Department of Migration Management at IOM.

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“One key component is also undermining the trafficking and smuggling business models through the promotion of safe alternatives and information sharing to reduce the risks of exploitation and abuse by these criminal networks.” Vulnerable migrants, including victims of trafficking and unaccompanied or separated children, will have access to a broad range of protection and assistance services such as mental health and psychosocial support, while migrants in transit who wish to return home will be supported with dignified return and reintegration.

Community level interventions will focus on improving community-led efforts to address trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, and support sustainable reintegration of returning migrants. COMPASS will work with national and local governments to enable a conducive environment for migrant protection, migration management and international cooperation on these issues.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is pleased to launch the COMPASS programme in cooperation with IOM, an important and longstanding partner on migration cooperation,” said Marriët Schuurman, Director for Stability and Humanitarian Aid of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

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“The programme is a part of the Dutch comprehensive approach to migration with activities that contribute to protection and decreasing irregular migration. Research and data gathering are also important components, and we hope that the insights that will be gained under COMPASS will contribute to broader knowledge sharing on migration and better-informed migration policies.”, added Schuurman. The initiative has a strong learning component, designed to increase knowledge and the uptake of lessons learned, both within the programme and beyond its parameters. COMPASS will actively contribute to global knowledge that supports countries in managing migration flows and protecting vulnerable migrants such as victims of trafficking. The implementation of COMPASS is set to start soon.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, as the donor to the COMPASS initiative, pledges its active support to partner countries to improve migration cooperation mechanisms within its long-term vision. 

IOM, the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration, contributes its expertise as the technical implementation partner to the initiative. IOM works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners in its dedication to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. 

READ  Africans cautioned against accepting  inaccurate information about COVID 19 prevention, treatment

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A child, 40 others drown in shipwreck off Tunisia

Photo: Mediterranean Sea

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are deeply saddened by reports of a shipwreck off the coast of Sidi Mansour, in southeast Tunisia, yesterday evening. The bodies of 41 people, including at least one child, have so far been retrieved.

According to reports from local UNHCR and IOM teams, three survivors were rescued by the Tunisian National Coast Guard. The search effort was still underway on Friday. Based on initial information, all those who perished were from Sub-Saharan Africa.

This tragic loss of life underscores once again the need to enhance and expand State-led search and rescue operations across the Central Mediterranean, where some 290 people have lost their lives so far this year. Solidarity across the region and support to national authorities in their efforts to prevent loss of life and prosecute smugglers and traffickers should be a priority.

Prior to yesterday’s incident, 39 refugees and migrants had perished off the coast near the Tunisian city of Sfax in early March. So far this year, sea departures from Tunisia to Europe have more than tripled compared to the same period in 2020.

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UNHCR and IOM continue to monitor developments closely. They continue to stand ready to work with the national authorities to assist and support the survivors, and the family members of those lost.

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Ethiopian migrants return home from Yemen with IOM support in wake of tragic boat sinking

Yemen: Stranded Ethiopian migrants prepare to board an IOM-facilitated flight from Aden, Yemen, to fly home to Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM/Majed Mohammed 2021

One hundred and sixty Ethiopian migrants have returned home safely from Yemen today with the assistance of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), just one day after a perilous journey across the Gulf of Aden claimed the lives of dozens of people, including at least 16 children.

More than 32,000 migrants, predominantly from Ethiopia, remain stranded across Yemen in dire, often deadly, circumstances.

“The conditions of migrants stranded in Yemen has become so tragic that many feel they have no option but to rely on smugglers to return home,” said Jeffrey Labovitz, IOM’s Director for Operations and Emergencies.

At least 42 people returning from Yemen are believed to have died on Monday when their vessel sank off the coast of Djibouti. Last month, at least 20 people had also drowned on the same route according to survivors. IOM believes that, since May 2020, over 11,000 migrants have returned to the Horn of Africa on dangerous boat journeys, aided by unscrupulous smugglers.

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“Our Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) programme provides a lifeline for those stranded in a country now experiencing its seventh year of conflict and crisis. We call on all governments along the route to come together and support our efforts to allow migrants safe and dignified opportunities to travel home,” added Labovitz.

COVID-19 has had a major impact on global migration. The route from the Horn of Africa to Gulf countries has been particularly affected. Tens of thousands of migrants, hoping to work in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), now find themselves unable to complete their journeys, stranded across Djibouti, Somalia and Yemen.

While the pandemic has also caused the number of migrants arriving to Yemen to decrease from 138,000 in 2019 to just over 37,500 in 2020, the risks they face continue to rise. Many of these migrants are stranded in precarious situations, sleeping rough without shelter or access to services. Many others are in detention or being held by smugglers.

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“We cannot find jobs or food here; Yemen is a problem for us,” said Gamal, a 22-year-old migrant returning on the VHR flight. “I used to sleep in the street on cardboard. I could only eat because of the charity people would give me and sometimes we were given leftovers from restaurants. I never had much to eat.”

Since October 2020, in Aden alone, IOM has registered over 6,000 migrants who need support to safely return home. Today’s flight to Addis Ababa was the second transporting an initial group of 1,100 Ethiopians who have been approved for VHR to Ethiopia. Thousands of other undocumented migrants are waiting for their nationality to be verified and travel documents to be provided.

Prior to departure on the VHR flight, IOM carried out medical and protection screenings to ensure that returnees are fit to travel and are voluntarily consenting to return. Those with special needs are identified and receive specialized counselling and support.

In Ethiopia, IOM supports government-run COVID-19 quarantine facilities to accommodate the returnees on arrival and provides cash assistance, essential items and onward transportation to their homes. The Organization also supports family tracing for unaccompanied migrant children.

READ  About 12,000 Africans arrive Europe via Italian waters in less than four months of 2020

Across the Horn of Africa and Yemen, IOM provides life-saving support to migrants through health care, food, water and other vital assistance.

Today’s flight was funded by the US State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM). Post-arrival assistance in Addis Ababa is supported by EU Humanitarian Aid and PRM.

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