We want to return to our workplaces through government-negotiated reentry permits, they say
On Sunday, stranded returnees, desperate for reentry permits to Qatar, declared an ultimatum to surround the Qatar embassy in Dhaka next week if the permit issue is not solved.
They conveyed the warning to the foreign ministry via an agitation organised in front of the ministry in the capital.
Around 200 out of the approximated 11,000 Qatar-returnees gathered before the ministry to put forth their demand.
"We gathered to stage a demonstration before the ministry. The ministry officials met with a 5-member team among us and assured us that they would look into the matter," said Sohel Rana, a Qatar returnee.
"If our issue is not resolved within a week, we will siege the Qatar embassy," he added.
Abdul Mannan, a returnee, said, "My employer gave all required documents to get a reentry permit. But the Qatari authorities did not issue any entry permit despite repeated efforts."
He said there were around 13,000 stranded returnees. Of this number, 2,000-2,500 were able to return to Qatar after receiving their reentry permits.
"We want to return to our workplaces through government-negotiated reentry permits. Bangladesh government must negotiate with the Qatari government to ensure our return," he added.
Even though Yousuf Mohamed Al Othman, Foreign Affairs Minister of Qatar has provided assurances that exceptional entry permits for stranded expatriate Bangladeshis will be issued shortly, most have workers have still not received their permissions.
The Qatari minister made the assurances during a meeting with Md Jashim Uddin, Ambassador of Bangladesh on 24 October.
Md Jashim requested the Qatari minister to take measures with regards to the return of Bangladeshi workers through the issuance of exceptional entry permits.
He also handed over a list of stranded expatriate Bangladeshis to Yousuf Mohamed.
According to an unofficial estimate, around 3.5 lakh Bangladeshis are currently working in Qatar.
Qatar reopened its labour market for Bangladeshi workers in February this year after a closure of several months, just before Covid-19 upended the situation again.