300 more undocumented Bangladeshi migrants to be repatriated soon

Photo shows migrants spending time in the capital Male' City's Republic Square. (Photo/Sun/Mohamed Afrah)

Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail has stated that work is underway to repatriate 300 more undocumented Bangladeshi nationals in the Maldives in the near future.

Already 60 Bangladeshi nationals have been repatriated to the country on a military plane of Bangladesh plane. The migrants had all been living in the country undocumented before their repatriation.

The plane had arrived in the Maldives carrying medical supplies and transported Maldivian students in Bangladesh and Nepal. The plane also transported a team of Bangladeshi medical professionals to assist the Maldives in its bid to control the COVID-19 virus.

Minister Fayyaz, speaking in the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament today, stated that 800 Bangladeshi nationals had requested to be repatriated back home after a government announcement. The Minister noted that many of these migrants were missing official documents such as passports.

“We have received information that Bangladesh will be sending another plane. We hope that 300 Bangladeshi nationals can be repatriated (from this flight).” Said the Minister,

He reminded that the process could not be done overnight, as being noted by some. The Minister stated that the Maldives could not battle the whole world in order to do this.

“Most of them do not have official documents. It is not an easy process to make a passport. We have to make police reports and other documents. With the cooperation of the Bangladeshi government and discussions with the embassy, it takes around four or six months to make a passport at the earliest.” Said the Minister.

He added that discussions with the government of Bangladesh had received positive indications that the process could be sped up.

Minister Fayyaz estimated that around 100,000 migrants were in the Maldives undocumented. It would extremely costly for the Maldivian government to make a facility for all of them or to detain them. This was the reason why the government chose to regularize these migrants.

“We believe that if we maintain this moratorium, we can resolve this. We have now issued a guideline regarding accommodation. This means that if the businesses cannot treat them (migrants) as humans, then they will have to stop their operations.” Said the Minister firmly.

Maldives has so far confirmed 475 cases of COVID-19. It should be noted that the majority of the cases are Bangladeshi nationals, while the overwhelming majority of the cases are foreigners.

The government has begun to address concerns that the virus could pose a threat to the migrant population who are sometimes forced to live in conditions of congestion and poor hygiene