4.66 lakh migrants returned home permanently in past 2 years
A new report from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) shows that 466,666 Bangladeshi expatriates permanently returned home in the past two years.
According to the "Population and Housing Census 2022: National Report (Volume-I)", 1.54 lakh or 33.03 percent of the returnee expatriates were from Chattogram division followed by 1.32 lakh or 28.48 percent from Dhaka division.
The report added that 8.42 percent of the expatriates who returned home permanently were from Khulna division, 7.82 percent from Rajshahi division, 7.33 percent from Sylhet division, 5.29 percent from Mymensingh division, 5.15 percent from Rangpur division, and the lowest, 4.49 percent, from Barishal division.
The report, recently published on the BBS website, also showed that 27,842 foreigners were staying in Bangladesh during the census period. Of them, 21,208 are males and 6,634 are females.
Analysing the data on foreigners by division, it was observed that the highest number of foreigners, or 40.41 percent, reside in Dhaka. 16.14 percent reside in Chattogram, 15.75 percent in Rajshahi, 12.06 percent in Barishal and 1 percent in Mymensingh, says the report.
Prof Selim Raihan, executive director of South Asian Network on Economic Modeling, said it is a "natural process" for many Bangladeshis who have worked abroad for a long time to return home permanently.
Also, reasons such as loss of jobs force many to return home, he said.
However, it needs to be analysed whether the Covid-19 pandemic and post-pandemic situation have impacted the return of the Bangladeshi expatriates, he added.
"Whether there are any additional reasons needs to be looked at," said Prof Raihan, adding that different researches had shown that Bangladeshis returned home after losing their jobs in host countries amid the pandemic.
Prof Raihan also said the census had "underestimated" the number of foreigners living in Bangladesh.
The number of foreigners living in Bangladesh is supposed to be several times higher than the figure showed in the BBS report, he said, adding that many foreigners work in Bangladesh informally and without valid work permits.
In a recent report, migrant advocacy group Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) showed that detention and subsequent deportation, failure to get jobs abroad, and employer's violation of providing promised jobs and wages were among key reasons for the untimely return of 218 Bangladeshi migrant workers.
The survey found that 34 returnees, including 16 without valid work permits and 11 without valid visas, were detained and deported.
Meanwhile, 33 migrants returned as they could not find employment while 44 migrant workers returned as jobs and wages did not live up to the promises made by recruiters.
Other reasons include employer's misconduct, low wage, and physical illness.
In a paper presented while revealing the survey's findings at a city hotel, RMMRU Founding Chair Prof Tasneem Siddiqui mentioned that untimely returns had become a "common phenomenon".
After making a "huge investment", a section of migrants return before completing their stipulated period of work, she said in her paper.
According to the results of the BBS census, 5,053,358 Bangladeshi citizens were staying abroad for at least six months preceding the census enumeration or had gone with the intention to live abroad for at least six months.
Of them, the highest 40.61 percent was recorded in Chattogram division followed by 28.32 percent in Dhaka division, the report says.
The rate for Sylhet is 11.34 percent, Khulna 6.07 percent, Rajshahi 5.33 percent, Mymensingh 3.05 percent, Barishal 3 percent and Rangpur 2.28 percent, it added.