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Bangladesh – Rapid Assessment: Needs and Vulnerabilities of International and Internal Return Migrants in Satkhira (May-June 2020)

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As the COVID-19 pandemic emerged globally, migrant workers, both internationally and within Bangladesh, found themselves facing a new set of challenges and vulnerabilities. With limited access to income-generating activities, social services, healthcare systems, and social support networks, many have opted to return home.
During May and June 2020, IOM, supported by the European Union under the regional program REMAP, along with the NPM team based in Cox’s Bazar, completed data collection on the needs and vulnerabilities of international and internal Bangladeshi migrant returnees. A rapid assessment report on all surveyed migrants was developed shortly afterwards, focusing on the demographic and socio-economic profile of returnees, their livelihoods and employment, their migration and return experiences and practices, and their economic and social challenges and aspirations.

Following the country-level rapid assessment, data was analysed on the district level in order to gauge potential geographical distinctions and provide greater nuance and detail to the focus themes. This district-level report summarizes the findings in Satkhira.

Snowball sampling was used from a returnee list provided by the Government of Bangladesh in order to determine a sample population for this study. Due to mobility restrictions, data collection was phone-based. Returnees were categorized as either international, having returned from outside Bangladesh, or internal, having returned to their home district from another district in Bangladesh. Due to the sampling method, the survey is nonprobabilistic, meaning that the sample is not necessarily representative of the returnee population of Bangladesh.
Additionally, the number of female respondents was low, so the report does not necessarily represent the needs and vulnerabilities of female returnees.

In comparison to the other district survey results, international and internal returnee respondents in Satkhira experience less severe drops in income and unemployment. However, when asked about their challenges since they returned to their district, a large proportion of respondents reported that finding a job as their most significant challenge, accompanied by social and mental issues. Moreover, a large majority of respondents face challenges regarding debt and debt repayment. Finally, more internal than international returnee respondents indicated that they want to remigrate when it is safe.