Overseas Bangladeshis to send nine bln dollars home this year

DHAKA, August 21, 2008 (AFP) – Bangladeshis abroad will pump close to nine billion dollars back into the nation’s economy this year, the foreign minister said Thursday, but warned migrant workers they were at risk of human trafficking. Itekhar Ahmed said that since January, migrant workers had sent 6.5 billion dollars back to Bangladesh, and the year’s total would be around nine billion dollars.

In the 12 months to June 30, Bangladeshis sent 7.9 billion dollars home, up two billion dollars on the previous 12 months.

Ahmed said Bangladeshis working abroad helped the country’s economy but said trafficking — selling people as forced labour — was a major concern.

“We must eliminate the grey area that falls between migration and trafficking,” the privately owned news agency UNB quoted him as saying.

“In a country like Bangladesh, where unemployment is pervasive and opportunities are limited, illegal human traffickers do not have to try too hard to mislead the millions of job seekers.”

Ahmed said the government was also working to ensure Bangladeshis did not take jobs where false promises were made.

About 1,000 Bangladeshis, who say they had not been paid the money they were promised from employers,