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Monday , September 28 2020

Bangladeshis call for diplomatic push to lift travel ban

KUWAIT CITY, Aug 10: Number of Bangladeshi workers who left Kuwait to Bangladesh before the airports were shut due to coronavirus crisis have called on their government to make diplomatic efforts to ensure that they can return to Kuwait at the earliest.

According to the Bangladesh newspaper Daily Star, a group of about 50 Bangladeshi workers submitted a memorandum to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment.

They have expressed fear that several thousand migrants could lose their jobs and businesses back in Kuwait as their visas will expire, as Kuwait is yet to lift its travel ban on Bangladesh and 30 other countries.

Although Kuwait partially opened its international flights on 1st August after it was stopped in March due to the epidemic, yet the ban continues on 31 countries, including Bangladesh, the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran and Nepal.

Sabur Khan, one of the campaigners, said he came to Bangladesh on December 4 on leave and was scheduled to return in late March, but by then the travel to Kuwait was suspended. The Kuwait government has a rule that a migrant on leave must return to Kuwait in six months. Due to the pandemic, Kuwait extended this time-frame to nine months

He further stated that there are many returnees who have been staying in Bangladesh for seven to eight months. If they cannot return to Kuwait at the soonest, they will lose their jobs or businesses, he said. “I have an electronics and electrical shop in Kuwait. I have invested a lot of money; if I can’t return, I’ll lose the business,” Sabur said.

Like Sabur there are many Bangladeshis with no jobs at home for many months, he said, several thousand migrants are struggling. They will face grave consequences if their visas expire before Kuwait lifts travel restrictions.

Other countries — including India, Pakistan and the Philippines — have begun diplomatic efforts to lift the ban, he added.

“Bangladesh should also start a strong diplomatic move. This is our earnest request,” said Sabur, one of the signatories to the memorandum. 

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