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January 26, 2023

Repatriation Diplomacy

By Shahidul K K Shuvra

Foreign embassies working full-fledged in Romania and putting efforts to bring workers here should have their own funds to help their citizens, in case of repatriation, health problems, legal support, etc. They should be able to provide helps to their remittance senders. I have noted the complaints– Asian and African citizens facing trouble don’t get any response when they call their embassies. Especially Asian embassies are interested in celebrating special days, cultural events, and parties. They have funds for that, but no fund to help their citizens who are losing jobs and facing other kinds of problems!

Last Sunday we sadly said goodbye at the Otopeni Airport to Indian migrant workers who lost jobs in Romania which made their papers invalid, and they were notified to leave the country within two weeks but they didn’t have money to buy tickets to go back to India. The innocent migrant workers tried a lot to change jobs and get back their papers but their employers couldn’t help them. They called the embassy and received no answer. Thanks to the Romanian Immigration Department for paying their ticket fare to go back to India. But why doesn’t their embassy stand beside them?

Workers coming to Romania mostly from the countryside, have a poorer educational and cultural background. Thus, these innocent people without help, can’t solve their problems, they don’t know what is immigration law and how to maintain work permits; easily they get misled by unscrupulous people who are trying to make a business out of their innocence and problems. Therefore, every embassy should have a department to make them aware and provide them help with 24 hours hotline service. Otherwise, the foreign ministry of the country shouldn’t allow an embassy to go into operation.

Bangladesh as a developing nation is maintaining a mission in Bucharest, according to the European standard, but they have nothing to defend their citizens working in Romania, no single lawyer they could appoint to protect their workers. The budget for the mission and staff is only focused on the ambassador’s diplomatic luxury. But the mission should be pro-people and they should first provide services to their citizens, especially those who are in trouble and looking for solutions. Only showing interest in bringing their citizens as workers and later overlooking their citizens losing jobs and becoming homeless in the country isn’t acceptable.

The diplomatic missions should look after their workers to boost the Romanian economy as well as ensure sending remittances to their own homes. But this Eastern European country became an apprenticeship ground for novice bureaucrats to learn something to get appointed in a richer part of Europe, America, England, etc. Therefore, they have a penurious level of playing diplomatic acts, leisurely they are passing time and ignoring their own citizens’ agony. It seems they aren’t aware of their duty and responsibility. Diplomatic luxury makes them protective to save their job and live in Bucharest hassle-free with enjoying so-called diplomatic privilege, which slowdowns bilateral relationships through economic development.

The Foreign Ministry of Romania should sensitize foreign missions, which want to see their workers in the country, to pay attention to their people, and some of the workers’ repatriation costs should be given by them, in most cases by the employers who hired the workers from abroad; they can’t fire international workers with one day notice; they should pay their repatriation in case of their business losses in the winter time when they can’t afford the workers. Before bringing workers, they should prove that they have the financial solvency to continue the workers’ jobs for at least 2 years. If it’s necessary to remove a worker, his repatriation costs should be paid by the company. If a complicacy is created about the repatriation embassy should take care of it from their funds. These combined efforts would prevent migrant workers from crossing the border towards Western Europe and help them to sustain their jobs in the country.


The writer is a Bangladeshi journalist; he worked at several English daily newspapers; now he is a resident of Romania and connected to Romanian culture, history, and literature for more than a decade. He can be reached at sshuvra@gmail.com             


Photo caption: The writer and Mohammed Rafiqul Islam, a former counsellor at the Parliament of Romania, at the Otopeni Airport to see off migrant workers who lost jobs and asked to leave the country. 


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