Migration, media and remittance

It is estimated that one out of every seven people on earth, more than one billion individuals are directly impacted by remittances

Migration, media and remittance are interlinked. If safe migration is ensured, and if we get the total remittances through formal way/ proper channel, the whole scenario of migration will be positively changed, and our national economy will be more strengthen. Definitely we will be gainer in many ways. To address these issues, we must involve print, electronic and social media as key stakeholders among others. National and international campaign to make awareness on safe migration, to prevent human trafficking and people-smuggling trade, life-threatening journey by boat to unknown destinations, those challenging issues require accommodation in national and international media broadly. Bangladeshi workers are very hard-working, and they have been working in different sectors of 161 countries across the globe. But many workers are facing difficulties too due to undocumented, cheated by the brokers, people-smuggling syndicate, trafficked, tortured in detention and jail, getting irregular and low-payment from the employer and few others to mention. So the government and other stakeholders should work from now collectively to ensure all the Bangladeshi workers are under the shadow of the protective umbrella of safe migration.

We observed International Day of Family Remittances on June 16th. The 176 member-countries of the Governing Council of International Fund for Agricultural Develop­ment (IFAD) unanimously declared 16 June the International Day of Family Remittan­ces. Objective of observance of the Day is to recognize and raise global awareness of the fundamental contribution of migrant workers to the wellbeing of their families and communities. And to the sustainable development of their countries of origin.

According to the Bangladesh Bank, in 2015, the Bangladeshi migrant workers sent home $15.31 billion in remittance, the highest in the country’s history. Remittance sent by more than eight million migrant workers of Bangladesh that plays a crucial role in the country’s economy, helping reduce the overall incidence of poverty, and maintaining a healthy balance of payments. The World Bank informs, remittances helped reduce poverty in Bangladesh by 1.5 percent. It also accounts for about 66 percent of the country’s foreign currency reserves, provides Bangladesh with a strong and stable external position.

On the Remittance Day, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Kanayo F. Nwanze said, “Remittances bring economic stability to families and countries. It can help rebuild the fabric of societies, spark economic development, and bring the stability necessary for a hopeful future.” So, certainly it was very significant to observe the Remittances Day.

The main concern of Bangladesh is: nearly 22 percent of the country’s remittances has been coming through informal ways. So, we will have to prevent it to ensure bringing the remittances through formal channel thru discouraging the informal ways. Remittances are the main driving force of the country’s economy.

To get expert opinion on this issue, while contacted, Syed Saiful Haque, a migration expert in Bangladesh and chairman of WARBE Development Foundation said that we should look into why people are adopting unofficial means avoiding the official ones. People use Hundi for its simplicity and speed. If we can bring these features to our existing official systems, people will be less inclined to break the law. Awareness creation, timely motivation, advocacy and information dissemination are must with involvement of the Banks and media to establish effective mechanism. Let the migrant workers clearly understand that sending remittances through formal ways are secure and helpful both for them and the country, Saiful Haque suggested.

Pre-departure orientation program, perfect policies required to encourage the use of remittances to promote longer-term growth and income security. Encourage migrants to become investors in productive assets in the country. Returnee migrants also have a crucial role to play as they can share their experiences with future migrants and their families. Moreover, the involvement of different actors and sectors are instrumental to be successful.
Remittances lead to increased investments in health, education, and other sectors. Considering all the issues, ensuring safe migration and official formal ways to get all the remittances are must for the sustainable development. It will gear up to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Bangladesh must strive to be a role model achieving huge success through working on these issues.

However, the largest source countries of migrants are Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. It is estimated that one out of every seven people on earth, more than one billion individuals are directly impacted by remittances.

Research shows, it is widely accepted that the media intervenes in processes of individual and institutional communication to provide frameworks for the production and consumption of representations of many issues include migration. The role of media in relation to migration has been argued to: influence the reception within communities of new migrants in a destination country; provide a source of information for potential migrants including both the promotion of safe migration, sending remittances through proper channel. And discouragement of being cheated by the traffickers, and the people-smuggling criminals.
Mass media are excellent actors to play the role of making awareness among the people and to urge like this way: You should have dreams in your life as citizens of the country. All of you are the future of your families and the nations. Do not risk your life for nothing; Go to abroad as skilled workers through legal way, get decent work, earn more, stay healthy, send your hard-earned remittances using formal ways to your motherland.

However, migrant workers strengthen the bond between a migrant community in a destination country and its country of origin. The prominent media theme should be safe migration. More news stories, commentary, editorials, and opinion editorial / Op-Ed in principle need to accommodate on regular basis in media. Even media should arrange round table discussion, seminar on migration issue jointly with the government and other stakeholders. Media coverage should be on the opportunities for Bangladeshi workers in countries such as Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and other countries.

Even community radio, local newspapers are also helpful to disseminate the relevant message for the local community to be aware. Concerned ministries, policy and law makers, local government representatives must work with the media people on these issues for the national interest. The government must act with ‘zero tolerance’ in controlling trafficking, people-smuggling, and punishing the perpetrators.

In fact, any single-country is unable to solve the problems. Integrated, collective efforts are must of both sending and receiving countries, regional, and international Forum include South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The United Nations chief Ban Ki-Moon wisely said, “The detention of migrants should cease immediately, because detention is not the answer. I recognize the difficulties. But the world has the wealth, the capacity and the duty to meet these challenges,” Ban Ki-Moon urged.

(Originally published in The Independent, Bangladesh.)

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