The Edition


Nearly 4,700 undocumented workers repatriated: Foreign Ministry

Fathmath Shaahunaz
12 August 2020, MVT 12:36
Expatriate workers board a Maldivian flight, for repatriation. PHOTO/MALDIVIAN
Fathmath Shaahunaz
12 August 2020, MVT 12:36

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs disclosed that nearly 4,700 undocumented workers have been repatriated till date, under the ongoing government-led initiative.

Speaking to The Edition, the ministry's Director of Communications Miuvaan Mohamed confirmed that a total of 4,697 undocumented Bangladeshi nationals were sent back to Dhaka.

The latest batch numbering 200 was repatriated via the national airline Maldivian on Monday.

Maldivian is currently operating two weekly flights to repatriate undocumented migrant workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, following discussions between Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid and his Bangladeshi counterpart AK Abdul Momen.

Authorities estimated earlier that approximately 20,000 workers will be sent back to their home countries by the end of 2020.

Since the beginning of the community-wide outbreak of COVID-19 in Maldives, the total number of Bangladeshi expatriates that have tested positive for the virus are 1,869, amounting to roughly 36 percent of all confirmed cases in the country.

The COVID-19 outbreak in the capital city of Male' has disproportionately affected the expatriate population, the majority of whom are Bangladeshi nationals living in highly congested quarters where it is impossible to reduce contact or exercise social distancing. Their often small-spaced living conditions have been described by local and international civil society organisations as, "claustrophobic", "unsanitary" and "overcrowded".

In a move to contain the spread of the coronavirus, in particular within congested labour quarters, the government mobilised efforts to transfer expatriate workers to safer environments, including temporary shelters in Hulhumale', Thilafushi and Gulhifalhu.

Maldives now records total 5,223 confirmed and 2,353 active COVID-19 cases, along with 2,849 recoveries and 21 deaths. The deceased include four Bangladeshi citizens that succumbed to the virus.

On March 12, WHO classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. To date, the new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 20.5 million people and claimed over 746,000 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 13.4 million people have recovered.