Bangladesh halts worker migration to the Maldives

Bangladesh has temporarily blocked its nationals from migrating to the Maldives – an action described by one key local employer as a response to decades of failure by Maldivian authorities to deal with “human trafficking” and labour management.

The ‘Dhaka Tribune’ newspaper reported yesterday (September 23) that the country’s Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) had decided to halt migration to the Maldives over concerns nationals were arriving in the country only to find promised jobs were not available.

It was believed that Bangladesh nationals were – in certain cases – becoming unwitting victims of a “section of unscrupulous recruiting agencies,” the report added.

BMET Director General Shamsun Nahar was quoted in local media as claiming that the number of workers from Bangladesh within the Maldives was thought to be at the “maximum limit” for such a small country.

The High Commissioner of Bangladesh in the Maldives, Rear Admiral Abu Saeed Mohamed Abdul Awal, today confirmed that the decision was made to check on the eligibility of workers.

“This is a temporary measure for review, genuine job seekers will be allowed to come through the proper procedure,” he said, adding that there were no plans to inspect the wider employment practices of Bangladesh nationals in the country.

Maldives Immigration Controller Dr Mohamed Ali said he had not received any notice of the decision, while other sources in his department were only aware of the matter through media reports.

Foreign low-wage workers are often lured to the country by brokers, paying a ‘recruitment’ fee – sometimes as high as several thousand dollars – that is shared between local agents and recruiters in the country of origin.

In June, the Maldives was placed on the US State Department’s Tier Two Watch List for Human Trafficking for the fourth consecutive year – the US State Department noting conditions of “forced labour: fraudulent recruitment, confiscation of identity and travel documents, withholding or nonpayment of wages, and debt bondage” of expatriate workers.

Employer view

Former Maldives Association of Construction Industry (MACI) President Mohamed Ali Janah said he was “shocked” by the position taken by Bangladesh authorities to halt migration.

“This represents the ongoing failure of labour management in the Maldives over the last two decades,” he said. “We have seen rampant corruption in how the labour management business has been run by organised criminals for a long time.”

Janah alleged that, as a result the action by Bangladeshi authorities this week, many businesses in the industry were likely to suffer “collateral damage” from the impact on the available foreign workforce.

“We need at least 2,000 to 3,000 workers in the next two weeks for a number of projects overseen by my company,” he said.

Janah said that while his company wished to employ a larger number of Maldivian staff, even if he paid wages of MVR10,000 (US$650) he claimed there was limited interest among the local population to be labourers.

While Janah estimated earlier this year that the country’s illegal foreign workforce was potentially at 100,000 people, he said the failure to implement a functioning system of labour management in the Maldives had made it hugely difficult to find legitimate workers among the expatriate population.

“Why would we want to hire potentially illegal labour, we don’t know who these people are,” he said. “We have a huge number of projects in the country right now, so we will have to find the people to work, even if it is from China or Cambodia or another country.”

According to Janah, the alleged mismanagement of foreign labour in the country could be resolved within months if local authorities took a genuine effort to resolve the problems through measures such as proper screening of foreign nationals or even DNA testing.

He argued, however, that such a focus would require an elected government with a democratic mandate to conduct such work.

Earlier this year, the Immigration Department confirmed that authorities had targeted the return of 10,000 unregistered workers by the end of the year.

This pledge to return a predetermined number of expatriates was criticised at the time by the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM), which raised concerns that some workers were being punished for the actions of employers and agents acting outside the law.


11 thoughts on “Bangladesh halts worker migration to the Maldives”

  1. “We need at least 2,000 to 3,000 workers in the next two weeks for a number of projects overseen by my company,” Mohamed Ali Janah said.....then start treating them as humans, and not as slaves

  2. This is disgusting to read. One of the worlds most beautiful resort "paradise" countries and learn of this disrespect of the government for human beings.

  3. "BMET Director General Shamsun Nahar was quoted in local media as claiming that the number of workers from Bangladesh within the Maldives was thought to be at the “maximum limit” for such a small country."

    In fact, that maximum limit on the number of Bangladeshi nationals here exceeded a long time ago. Quite soon, Bangladesh will have to annex Maldives as its territory in order to protect its nationals and Bengali speakers. Do you think I'm joking?

    If Mohammed Ali Janah and his empire needs 3000 workers per 2 weeks, that amounts to 78,000 workers per year just for his empire alone. That's around 22% of the Maldivian population! This is ridiculous.

  4. A victory for the glorious Bangladeshi government. First, they sentence an islamist scumbag to death, then they prevent their citizens from being exploited by supremacist states.

    I hope India, Sri Lanka and Nepal follow suit.

  5. I am glad to see that something is being done for the Bangladeshi workers in the Maldives. I have seen so much inhumane treatment to these hard working people by Maldivians. I have seen Bangladeshi men denigrated, verbally abused, physically assaulted, mugged while in their sleep after a very hard day's work by the the so called Muslims people of the Maldives. You need to do a lot of reparation for the ill treatment you are still inflicting in these people with lots of dignity, hard working, who are away from their loved ones for many years. Fathers who have not seen their sons and daughters because they want their children to have a better life that theirs.

    They go to work to other countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt... and to the Maldives. Maldivians are shameless and cruel, apart for a few. Even mothers demand to get Bangladeshi men removed from the doctors waiting room or from the park in Male. I have also met decent Maldivians who are compassionate and loving towards other people, regardless of their origin.

    I help Bangladeshi men to have basic medicines and even get reunited with their families. My only condition is not to return to Maldives. Now this is happening at state level. About time!

    There will be a time that you may well need real help from other countries. However, you are digging such a big hole for yourselves that you may not get the help when you need it most. Think of your little islands being submerged. Maldives (298 km2 or 204th country in the World, according to area) go and ask Australia if they can give you or sell you a piece of their big country (7,692,024 km2 or 6th biggest country in the world).

    Maldives needs to learn to respect human life, regardless of nationality, gender, skin colour, sexual orientation, belief or wealth. Bangladeshi nationals are very decent people, I lived with them in your country and their country and they deserve a lot of respect.

  6. @fatboy on Tue, 24th Sep 2013 9:58 PM

    "Even mothers demand to get Bangladeshi men removed from the doctors waiting room or from the park in Male."

    This is human nature. IF there were millions of Maldivians flooding into Dhaka and standing in the waiting rooms of doctors, there'll be Bangladeshi mothers who won't like that. This is not an issue of just Maldivians or because Maldivians are particularly inhumane.

    Mass immigration is not tolerated well in any country, society or tribe for that matter. Tell me a country where that's the case. You talked about Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf states. Bangladeshis or more generally South Asians are treated worse that sh*t in those places. Fore example, can they marry Saudis or get Saudi nationality? Give me an example.

    It is a well known and publicized fact that South Asians in UAE live in slums and are at the mercy of their over lords and are treated like slaves.

    Do not make this into an argument about humane or inhumane treatment by Maldivians. The Maldives faces a national security crisis due to irresponsible mass immigration of labourers. I am glad that the Bangladeshi authorities have finally taken steps to stop this disaster waiting to happen.

  7. I am truly agree with the comments written by fatboy above . I have personally seen or felt the same inhuman behavior by Maldivian towards people from Bangladesh. Agree agree .

  8. Bagladeshi people are responsible for this. They themselves run illegal recruitment agency in Maldives and they bring the people to Maldives under illegal quotas and then let those people stranded in Maldives.

    There are some Maldivian involved together with Bagladeshi in this nasty work too.

  9. Why are locals uninterested in such work? And so it seems that it’s better for Maldivian youth to be lazy and unemployed rather than be employed in the construction industry. Nooooooooo! The reality is that construction companies and service industries will never be willing to pay RF 10 000 just to hire a local when they can get access to cheaper labor, even it’s at the expense of violating basic human rights of these individuals. It’s not that Maldivians are not interested in working; it’s just that there is demand for cheap labor and recruitment agencies can make huge amounts of money through human trafficking. No one ever sees the reality of the consequences that in 2018 the population of migrants will surpass the Maldivian population. No one ever understands the loss to the Maldivian Economy, given that the total amount of money wasted annually as remittances for these foreign workers and talks of stabilizing the economy always reverberates in the society without paying heed to the issue.

  10. @Ahmed Bin Addu Bin Suvadheeb
    Human nature has many facets.

    1.- Many Maldivians, that is to say: not all Maldivians, are too full of themselves. And they show the worst of human nature. The Maldives is a beautiful country and its people should be custodians of it, but no, they choose to trash it by throwing rubbish everywhere.

    2.- I have seen youngsters torturing animals and abusing Bangladeshi men. I have seen a Maldivian man hitting hard in the back of a Bangladeshi waiter with the ice of his drink; I have seen a man grabbing another waiter by the neck and making him bleed.

    I could go on illustrating the nasty part of human nature that I have seen among many Maldivians. But I tell you what: they choose to be arrogant, nasty and inhumane, when they lack manners. Few seem to exercise their intellect. Instead, the hang around cafes scratching their groins and abusing other humans. This is nothing to be proud.

    If you want to shrug and accept all this as "human nature" it says something about your nature.

  11. Congratulations to the Bangladeshi government for taking this much needed step. I hope the governments of India, Sri Lanka and Nepal will follow suit.
    It sickens me to see the exploitation of poor and vulnerable people in middle eastern countries. You delusional people may be shocked to know that I do not consider you to be 'middle eastern' yet the exploitation of poor workers in Maldives probably exceeds the hardships they endure in other countries.
    The governments of countries that provide guest workers (what a misnomer!) in Maldives should draw up a common employment contract that clearly stipulates holidays and medical cover and ensure Maldivian recruiting agents aka as Mafiosi and Crooks do not get involved in the recruitment process. The recruitment process should be done by government sponsored agencies only.
    Your human traffic record is now so shameful that even the UN has taken note.
    Till a proper recruitment process is implemented, the Indian government should ban the recruitment of doctors and teachers, stop the export of foodstuffs and medicines and shut down the visa section.....very soon you will see the collapse of your already precarious economy.
    You arrogant and self opinionated people will soon realise how dependent you are on Indian largesse. One tsunami and you are history.....and it will not affect us at all. We have the third largest economy in asia and the tenth largest in the world now.....makes you sick to the teeth doesn't it poppets?
    All expat workers in Maldives should ensure their passports are with them at all times.....just assume the immigration department is useless and all employers are crooks.
    By the way, I do not live or work in the Maldives. There are millions of Indians like me who have no need to travel abroad for third rate jobs in fourth rate countries.


Comments are closed.