Migrants Returning from Malaysia: CAAB notice sparks confusion
Many Bangladeshi migrants in Malaysia are now facing uncertainty over their return home as confusion has arisen over a circular of the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh.
According to the CAAB circular issued on August 16, Bangladeshi citizens have to be fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus 14 days before the travel date for their return home by flights.
If not fully vaccinated, they will need special approval or authorisation from Bangladesh foreign ministry, it said.
Following the circular, scores of Bangladeshi migrants thronged Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur to get authorisation to return home as they were not fully vaccinated. But the officials there turned them away, saying they wouldn't need any authorisation or letter to fly home, several migrants told this newspaper yesterday.
They also said some officials at the mission told them that the circular was withdrawn.
Contacted, Khorshed Alam Khastagir, Bangladesh's deputy high commissioner in Malaysia, said the CAAB order was not cancelled and there could have been miscommunication about it.
Asked about the rush of migrants at the high commission for special permission, Khastagir said he was not aware of it.
He further said the high commission is not issuing any letters to the Bangladeshis willing to return home.
"We get the list of travellers from the airlines. We then send it to the foreign ministry in Dhaka. Upon the ministry's approval, we send the list back to the airlines concerned," he told this newspaper from Kuala Lumpur over phone.
"We will make an announcement clarifying that travellers don't need to come to the high commission for permission," he added.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, Kamrul Islam, general manager (public relations) of US-Bangla Airlines in Dhaka, said they were allowing to fly home only those Bangladeshi travellers who took both shots of Covid vaccines.
In reply to a query, Kamrul said he was not aware of special permission mentioned in the CAAB circular.
Earlier, those wishing to return home would need to undergo PCR tests for Covid before departure and book rooms at hotels in Bangladesh for 14-day quarantine.
The CAAB circular has created big troubles for hundreds of Bangladeshi migrants, who either came out of jail recently or have been jobless for months amid lockdown in Malaysia.
One of them is Jahid Hossain, who is finding it hard to survive in Johor Bahru after losing his job a few months back.
He went to the high commission in Kuala Lumpur and obtained a travel permit on Tuesday as his work permit had expired.
"I had a ticket for a flight home on August 20. But my travel agent suddenly said I was not allowed to return home because I'm notfully vaccinated. I got shocked as the ticket was cancelled," he said.
Yesterday, he rushed to the high commission to obtain special permission to catch a flight home.
"After hours of wait, we were told around 5:00pm that we would not need special permission. I then informed my travel agent about it. The agent said he would manage a ticket at the end of this month or early next month," Jahid, who is from Tangail, told this newspaper over phone.
He said he was staying at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur's Kota Raya area since Monday and that he would have to fork out more money in case he has to extend his stay there.
"I was already in trouble as I lost my job. Now, I am facing even more troubles to return home. This is so sad. No one feels the pain of the migrants," he lamented.
Moudud Molla, a Bangladeshi student in Malaysia, said he has a relative there who must return home before going to Saudi Arabia next month.
"I went to the high commission yesterday with an application for special permission to allow my relative to fly home. An official there received the application…"
Around 5:00pm, commission officials told more than 100 Bangladeshis waiting there that they would not need any special permission to return home.
"One of the officials there told me that the CAAB circular was cancelled," Moudud said.
Talking to this newspaper from Malaysia over phone, migrant rights activist Mohammad Harun-Al Rashid said such a circular and subsequent sufferings of the migrants suggest a lack of coordination within the government.
"Migrants are already in trouble and the authorities need to take care of them instead of doing anything that pushes them into further vulnerability," he said.
Malaysia, home to about eight lakh Bangladeshis, has been seeing a rise in Covid infections over the last few months.
A large number of Bangladeshi migrants are in hardship due to joblessness, underpayment or non-payment of salary amid Covid-induced lockdown there.