A new anti-stigma campaign was launched Saturday for migrants and communities to reduce discrimination toward irregular Bangladeshi migrants who have returned from Europe, either forcibly or voluntarily, and to support their successful reintegration into society.
The five-month campaign is initiated by The Migrant Project run by an international social enterprise Seefar, which empowers migrants to make informed decisions on migration, said a press release.
The campaign aims to help Bangladeshi migrants returning from Europe access psychosocial support, and works with communities to aid their successful reintegration back into society.
Some 200 returnees will be eligible to receive a free and confidential psychosocial counselling session from The Migrant Project's experienced and professional counselling team. Returnee migrants can avail of this counselling service by filling out a form online.
The campaign will also work with communities to better understand the unique challenges facing returnees and reduce the social stigma experienced upon return.
Research by Seefar, a social enterprise specialising in migration, shows that Bangladeshi irregular migrants who return home after a failed migration attempt to reach Europe often face stigma.
A study in 2021 by Seefar found that almost half of migrants returning to Bangladesh face shame and stigma, and are rejected by their families and community. Those who return empty-handed with no money or savings are often viewed as "failed" migrants and shunned by their communities and even families. Many returnees also suffer from emotional trauma due to abuse and exploitation experienced abroad.
"I knew it would be very difficult to make people understand. I spent around Tk15 lakhs going to Europe. Everyone now blames me for this failure and waste of money. My parents sold their land to send me abroad", said a Bangladeshi male migrant who irregularly migrated to France.
Bangladesh is one of the single biggest countries of origin for irregular migrants arriving in Europe. In 2021, almost 9,000 Bangladeshis entered the EU irregularly, according to a study by Seefar. Whereas, due to Covid-19 pandemic many migrants were forcibly returned from Europe.