The first flight with 130 Bangladeshi nationals onboard a Jazeera Airways aircraft took off as part of the repatriation flights for Bangladeshi amnesty seekers. Prior to boarding, medical checks were conducted to ensure they were not infected with coronavirus, and certificates providing proof that they were coronovirus free to show to medical authorities in their country upon arrival.

Almost 5,000 Bangladeshi workers are expected to leave Kuwait during the coming weeks, as the coronavirus lockdown has crippled their ability to earn a living.

Bangladesh’s Ambassador to Kuwait S.M. Abul Kalam was reported to have admitted that discussions with Kuwaiti authorities lasted for two weeks to finalize the repatriation procedures. According to the daily, two flights are being scheduled each week to return 600 Bangladeshi nationals home with Kuwait sponsoring their expenses.

The Kuwaiti government declared an amnesty in April for all residency violators to leave the country, who can return after securing the legal documents. Nearly 5,000 Bangladeshi expats took advantage of the amnesty in the second week of April and were subsequently housed in four centers for residency violators pending their repatriation.

However, protests broke out following the deaths of two Bangladeshi nationals at two separate centers on Sunday, and they were joined by other amnesty seekers with demands for early repatriation, food, and healthcare facilities.

Bangladesh’s Ambassador Kalam attributed the protests to a shortage of food and essential supplies, as a lot of workers had been housed in the center under emergency circumstances. Another issue was the health certificates to show that the worker was free of the coronavirus.

Bangladesh has been facing some pressure to repatriate undocumented migrants from other countries too. It was reported that it was a concern for Bangladesh authorities to ensure institutional quarantine at a time for a large number of people, hence it was imperative to do the operations phase by phase.

Bangladeshi nationals with a COVID-19 clearance certificate would be sent for “home quarantine” once they landed in Bangladesh, and others would be moved to an institutional quarantine facility.  The Bangladeshi embassy released data that places the number of Bangladeshi expats working in Kuwait at 350,000.

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