Profiting from our poor unsuspecting workers | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 12, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 12, 2017

penny wise

Profiting from our poor unsuspecting workers

It saddens me, and I am sure many others, to see how unethical some people can be. This is especially true in the case of making money at the expense of poor, unsuspecting people. We all know that the Government of UAE has decided against issuing visas for Bangladeshi nationals – the reason being that many of our countrymen had arrived in Dubai with fake visas and work permits.

These poor people, mainly from rural areas, were lured by so-called manpower agents into selling their land and other valuables to give a huge sum of money to these middlemen in return for valid work permits in the Middle East.

Saying goodbye to their loved ones, these poor people boarded their flights, with hopes for a bright future for themselves and their families back home. What awaited them at their destination was something beyond their imagination! Obviously the visas on their passports looked so genuine that even immigration in Bangladesh or the airline could not detect them.

It was only at Dubai airport, the UAE immigration rejected the visas and these poor victims were deported back home, penniless and helpless, having lost everything. The agents, having completed their heinous acts, had of course disappeared!

If only there was a way that people in the villages could be warned of these criminals. Such incidents keep on happening all the time, and yet people put all their trust and money into the hands of these agents. If only the villagers would refrain from wanting to go overseas. They could put their money into safer investments, where they would get guaranteed returns.

NGOs working in the rural areas could play an important role in educating the communities to be on guard against charlatans luring them into investing all their saving as well as borrowed money in the hope of dream jobs abroad that just do not exist.

Some unemployed rural youth have succeeded in creating innovative projects of their own and not only achieved gainful employment for themselves but also created jobs in rural areas in enterprises such as the cultivation of fruits, high value vegetables, fish farming, etc.

We can only hope the large NGOs can help in disseminating information to protect the rural poor from the exploiting 'agents' and also train the youth in acquiring skills for the cottage industries and advanced farming.

When I was transiting through Dubai airport several years back, I still remember vividly seeing a fairly large group of Bangladeshi workers, looking lost and waiting to board a flight to Dhaka. When I asked one of them why they looked so tense and broken, he said that they were being deported back for entering with forged passports and visas, which they were unaware of.

How can anyone with any conscience work towards becoming rich at the expense of the poor!

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