Unfortunately, no one should be surprised that many of our Bangladeshi colleagues find themselves stuck amidst an ongoing conflict in Libya. Unlike, say, the Philippines with its comparatively sizeable apparatus for handling economic migration, the public management of migration flows is less formal in Bangladesh. To help resolve matters, the country has now been granted loans by the World Bank's concessional lending arm the International Development Association (IDA) to fund repatriation from Libya. While nearly half are now safely home, some 36,000 or so remain in Libya:
The World Bank today approved $40 million for the Repatriation and Livelihood Restoration for Migrant Workers Project in support to the Government of Bangladesh for repatriation of its migrant workers escaping the ongoing conflict in Libya. In addition to bringing them back to their home country, the project will provide a one-time cash grant to help returning migrant workers meet immediate needs.It's a sign of the times, I guess. Development concerns are a-changing, and migration is one of the more prominent items on today's checklist.
“Migrant laborers have contributed mightily to sustained growth and development in Bangladesh. Their remittances fuel domestic investments throughout the country and boost consumption to alleviate poverty,” said Ellen Goldstein, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh. “It is fitting that Government would support them in their time of need, and the World Bank is pleased to be able to respond to Government's request for support within just a few weeks’ time.”
Libya has been a host-country for migrant workers from Bangladesh as well as from other countries in South Asia, East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa. An estimated 70,000-80,000 Bangladeshis were working in Libya before the crisis of which about 34,000 have since returned due to the security concerns.
The project will finance part of the cost of transport of returnees and provide a one-time $775 cash grant following their return to support their immediate needs while additional donor funds will help returning workers seek available employment opportunities.
“The crisis has created a very serious situation requiring humanitarian support by the international community,” Bernice Van Bronkhorst, Project Team Leader said. “For those who have only recently migrated, this crisis has not only rendered them penniless but heavily indebted. The project is designed to help them get back on their feet. ”
The $74.1 million project is supported by a $40.0 million World Bank Credit in conjunction with a government contribution of $4.6 million and $29.5 million by donors through the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which will implement the project on behalf of the Government of Bangladesh.
The credits from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm carries a maturity of 40 years with a 10-year grace period with a 0.75 percent service fee.