DHAKA, May 30, 2011 – The Government of Bangladesh today signed a US$ 40 million credit agreement with the World Bank for the “Repatriation and Livelihood Restoration for Migrant Workers Project”. The emergency operation will finance the repatriation of Bangladeshi migrant workers escaping the conflict in Libya, and provide a one-time cash grant to help returning migrants meet immediate needs and restore livelihoods.
The recent crisis in Libya poses a significant shock to the income of Bangladeshi migrants and their families. Of the estimated 70,000 to 80,000 Bangladeshis working in Libya, more than 35,000 have returned home since the outbreak of the crisis.
“Migrant labors are a source of great economic resilience for Bangladesh,” said Engr. Khandker Mosharraf Hossain, Minister for Expatriate’s Welfare and Overseas Employment. “In their time of need, it is Government’s duty to come to their aid in order to bring them home and provide them with resources to reestablish themselves.”
The World Bank financing will retroactively cover the cost of transport for 10,000 returnees brought to Bangladesh with support from the International Migration Organization (IOM). It will also provide a one-time cash grant of around Taka 50,000 to 35,000 eligible Bangladeshi migrant workers following their return. The World Bank financing will add to government financing of $4.6 million, as well as nearly $30 million in grant funding from donor organizations raised through IOM’s global appeal.
“Returning workers are affected not only through loss of wage income, but also through increased debts often incurred in order to migrate,” said M. Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, Secretary, Economic Relations Division. “This operation aims to help returning migrants get back on their feet and begin rebuilding their lives.”
Additional Government programs will help returning workers seek available employment opportunities in both domestic and foreign labor markets.
The World Bank operation was prepared and approved in record time, using procedures developed for other emergencies, such as responding to the Haitian earthquake last year.
“We received a request in late March to support Government’s efforts at repatriation and livelihood restoration,” said Ellen Goldstein, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh. “I am pleased that we were able to approve this operation one month later, on April 26, with our Senior Management and Executive Directors agreeing to exceptional streamlining of procedures in order to respond quickly to an emergency situation.”
Mr. M. Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, Secretary, Economic Relations Division and Ms. Ellen Goldstein, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh signed the agreement on behalf of the Government of Bangladesh and the World Bank respectively, at the Economic Relations Division. The Honorable Minister, Engr. Khandker Mosharraf Hossain, Ministry of Expatriate’s Welfare and Overseas Employment, graced the occasion.
The credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessional arm, carries a maturity of 40 years, including a 10-year grace period with a service charge of 0.75 percent.