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Bangladesh – Rapid Assessment: Needs and Vulnerabilities of International Return Migrants in Dhaka (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 Dhaka.

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. As a result of the sampling method, the survey is non-probabilistic, 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.

The survey results indicate that international returnee respondents in Dhaka face several socio-economic vulnerabilities and challenges. Most notable is the significant drop in income and the high unemployment rate (82%). However, results also show that survey respondents experience social and psycho-social problems. Noteworthy is also the large proportion of respondents (25%) that aspire to be self-employed as opposed to prior to migration (9%). Finally, a large majority of respondents (96%) would like to re-migrate to the same country from which they returned after COVID-19 ends.