Prottasha – Creating Hope for Migrants Returning from Europe
Dhaka – The International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s European Union (EU)-funded flagship Prottasha project yesterday hosted a high-level event for key migration stakeholders to highlight its contribution to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) and advocate for greater coordination among key actors for humane and orderly migration management in Bangladesh.
Prottasha, the Bangla word for “hope”, is a 4-year, EUR 15.9 million project launched in 2017 to reintegrate Bangladeshis who have returned from Europe holding irregular status. It aims to achieve sustainable reintegration and improved migration governance.
Migration is a strong development catalyst for Bangladesh. With around 12 million Bangladeshis working abroad, the country netted USD 13.6 billion in remittances in 2018. Nearly 12 percent of the total workforce in Bangladesh migrate each year.
But large numbers of irregular Bangladeshi migrants continue to travel to Europe to live and work in EU member states. This led to the signing of a Standard Operating Procedure between the Bangladesh Government and the EU to facilitate their return and sustainable reintegration.
Bangladesh, as a signatory of the GCM and a key contributor to the text, believes the challenges posed by this type of migration must be managed through a whole-of-government, holistic approach, as endorsed by the GCM.
“Migration is a value-based phenomenon entailing strong social, economic and cultural aspects,” said Foreign Secretary Ambassador Md. Shahidul Haque. “Bangladesh is now proposing a new way to address migration. Called Migration 3.0, it will ensure that migration is governed through the broader framework of GCM and IOM’s Migration Governance Framework.”
In the past, many reintegration efforts for Bangladeshi migrants failed due to their inability to holistically address the issue. Policymakers believe that the reintegration model adopted by Prottasha, which highlights the role of government institutions, rather than development agencies, and the families and communities of the migrants, rather than the individuals, has the potential to establish sustainable solutions.
“Our focus also remains on providing sustainable reintegration for returnee migrants and promoting safe, orderly migration through improved capacities, knowledge, attitude and behavior,” said Rownaq Jahan, Secretary of Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment. “We are continuously working on reducing migration cost and unethical recruitment practices to ensure that the vulnerabilities of migrants are addressed,” he added.
"As a development partner of Bangladesh, the EU is not only committed to help the government to curb irregular migration, but also help the returnees have better social, economic and personal development opportunities once back in their home country. Improved reintegration strategies can directly and positively contribute to the betterment of the people and boost the economy of Bangladesh," said Rensje Teerink, Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Union Delegation to Bangladesh.
As of March 2019, a total of 774 returnees have been identified for reintegration assistance through Prottasha and have received social, economic and psychosocial support. The project has also supported the government in developing the country’s migration governance framework, engaging with recruiting agencies to facilitate ethical recruitment practices and integrating migration into Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) indicators.
“Our goal is to continue ensuring that the country benefits to the maximum through the skills and expertise of migrants returning from abroad,” said IOM Bangladesh Chief of Mission Giorgi Gigauri. “It starts with timely assistance, but needs to be sustained through improved migration governance.”
Prottasha is also reaching out to communities and local influencers. It has conducted 759 interactive community drama shows to sensitize people on safe migration, organized 513 workshops to build capacity of stakeholders to address migration issues at grassroot level, and hosted 17 district coordination meetings to address critical migration related issues.
For more information please contact Chowdhury Asif Mahmud Bin Harun at IOM Bangladesh, Email: email@example.com, Tel. +880-1755-509-476