Cumilla, Bangladesh: Religious leaders are an important and influential group in Bangladesh. For this reason we were delighted to hold an orientation workshop on safe and regular migration with fifty imams (religious leaders in local mosques) from Cumilla. “This is the first time we attended a session on migration and we now realise its importance more fully. Some of us used to be migrants ourselves”, said one of the participants.
The purpose of Migrant Resource Centre (MRC) orientation sessions is to widen partnerships and networks in order to spread timely, accurate and comprehensive information on safe migration. Being trusted community leaders, "imams can encourage more local residents to verify travel documents and employment contracts before they leave Bangladesh to ensure safe migration for all”, said the Assistant District Commissioner. He also spoke of the important role of imams in building trust and creating a communications bridge between the community and government units.
The MRC and the District Employment and Manpower Office (DEMO) representatives explained the various laws, procedures and government agencies dealing with migration topics in Bangladesh. The imams were encouraged to reach out to the MRCs and DEMOs when they suspected suspicious recruitment activities, trafficking or smuggling were taking place.
Among the issues raised during the orientation session was the need to include migration topics in madrasa and other academic centres of learning, as well as ensure better protection and support for female migrants. The imams committed to sharing more information on migration within their communities, through the leadership of the Islamic Foundation in Cumilla.
This activity is part of the outreach of the MRCs in Bangladesh, which is implemented by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development and funded by the European Union and Switzerland.