A TV or a Lotus Flower

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A migrant worker walking out of the arrivals terminal at the Tribhuvan International Airport is instantly recognizable. He has many large suitcases tightly tied with strings as if each suitcase were a salmon fish in a net. The sight of the strings around the suitcase gave rise to the widely-used moniker dori lahure (dori: a piece of string; lahure: anyone who goes abroad for work). These days, strings are being slowly replaced by cling-plastic wrap, as the latter is easier to use and fits the purpose better. Continue reading

How long will they suffer?

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It’s shocking to learn that an estimated 6,000 people from Bangladesh and Myanmar are fighting for survival in the Andaman Sea and the Straits of Malacca as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand are refusing to accept them to their respective shores.

While Myanmar disowns the Rohingya people drifting in the sea amid total uncertainty, Bangladesh seems not that much worried about its own people. Continue reading

Migrants get the short end of the stick

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“…but I’d paid for and been assured of an automobile driver’s job,” Maqbool protested when the employer (kafeel) in Abu Dhabi the poor Pakistani chap had reached, told him that he would be driving a herd of sheep and not a vehicle.

“I couldn’t turn round and go home as the employer wouldn’t hand over my travel documents and sign my exit permit,” says Maqbool, who had sold out his mother’s jewellery and other assets to go abroad for materialising his dream of earning enough wealth that could wash away the poverty his family had been facing since generations. Continue reading

Bangladeshi migrants clean filthy Yamuna river in search of livelihood

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The river Yamuna is choked with all kinds of filth- plastic water bottles, poly bags, rubber, flower garlands and coconuts thrown during the Hindu death rituals. This waste, however, is the source of livelihood for some people living at Yamuna Nagar near Nigambodh Ghat.

They row boats throughout the day and sieve all possible waste materials which could be sold to junk dealers. These people are migrants from Bangladesh who entered India through Bengal and have been living here since many years. Continue reading

New trends, old concerns

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Migration management is in the spotlight; 1.8 million Sri Lankans are currently working abroad, vast majority, women; “Action Plan” on the return and reintegration of migrant workers; Bilateral agreement ensures a standard contract.

With a boom in the construction industry in the Middle East since 2012, Sri Lanka appears to have changed its migration trend- and was sending more men than women. Continue reading

Migrants are not criminals: UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Migrants

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In an exclusive interview, Francois Crépeau, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants and a Professor at the Faculty of Law of McGill University, Montréal, where he holds the Hans and Tamar Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law, noted with concern that there had been a trend among ethnic minorities of taking risky boat rides to escape their country of origin, both for economic and political reason. Continue reading

UN: Sri Lanka should protect migrants from abuse

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With nearly 2 million of its citizens working abroad and their remittances providing the island’s largest single source of foreign exchange, the protection of Sri Lankan migrants is an urgent issue, according to the U.N..

Abuse of workers abroad and reports about the mistreatment of migrants captured by Australian authorities at sea mean there is a spotlight on the Sri Lankan government’s new “action plan” for dealing with returning and reintegrating migrants. Continue reading

Zero cost migration, really?

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Nepal and Qatar agree an overseas contract worker shouldn’t have to pay any fees to recruiters. Where have we heard that before?

During his four-day visit to Nepal this week, Qatar’s labour minister Abdullah Bin Saleh Mubarak Al-Khulaifi said migrant workers shouldn’t have to pay anything to go to work in the gas-rich kingdom that has nearly half-a-million Nepali workers. Continue reading