Role of MRC in helping the aspirants avoid risks of unsafe and illegal migration
Ramesh and Suresh (name changed) hail from Markan village situated in Markan Panchayat in Hussain block of Siwan district. Like many in their village, they both too are aspiring migrants who want to get a job in a Gulf country and reason for which they came in touch with a local agent from same village. The agent promised both the aspirants for a work visa of two years with a job contract to work in a renowned company in Saudi Arabia. Agent assured that all basic facilities like housing, food etc. will be provide by the company along with a good salary package. Also, he informed that this job did not even require any skill training or knowledge enhancement. Ramesh and Suresh could not deny this lucrative offer and shown their utmost interest for the job. Agent promised you will easily get this job by paying INR 60,000/- individually to him.
Aspirants suddenly recalled of what was taught to them in an awareness meeting by a Panchayat Facilitator who works on Safe Migration project in partnership NORAD, Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS) and ASK, which aims to reach 4000 migrants, and to make them aware about the safe migration process. The Panchayat Facilitator had met Ramesh and Suresh during awareness meetings organized in their village for aspirant migrant workforce. The discussions involved orientation of aspirants on safe migration process and steps to follow in order to avoid risks of forced labour. The facilitator had shared important information for aspirants that every migrant going for employment purpose in Gulf should migrate only on a work visa and not on a tourist visa. One should also verify the agent/agency, demand a job contract and thoroughly check and verify every detail in the contract (name of employer/company, salary, type of work, etc.) with the recruiter before leaving the country. The aspirants during the discussions were also informed regarding Migrant Resource Centre (MRC) which a one-stop information cum service center for migrant communities in Siwan, Bihar. The MRC has been established under the project for providing information on safe migration processes, verification of legal documents like visa, legal aid, counseling for migrants and their family members, etc.
Ramesh and Suresh decided to visit the MRC immediately after meeting the agent and met the Program Implementation Officer (PIO) there. The PIO verified visas of the aspirants which they received from the local agent and found that the visas were not Work visas but Tourist Visas with 90 days’ validity. The aspirants understood that they have been cheated by the agent who had put them at tremendous risk of getting caught at destination country for possessing a wrong visa and ultimately losing their jobs.
Unfortunately, Suresh has been a victim of cheating by local agents in the past. But this time, both aspirants made an informed choice by approaching the MRC at the right time and getting saved from cheating by local agents. The aspirants showed their presence of mind by following the suggestions of the Panchayat facilitator by quickly reaching out at MRC. The advice rendered at the MRC proved to be very useful to the aspirants for not getting trapped at the destination country with a wrong visa. Hence, they were able to save their hard earned income (INR 60,000/- each) which they would have otherwise paid to the agent as fees amount. Interestingly, the local agent again approached Ramesh claiming that the flight tickets have already been booked from Mumbai and also manipulated him to not to pay any amount at source and pay once they reach Saudi Arabia. The agent also tried to mislead the aspirant about the MRC asserting that the information offered at MRC is not reliable. When Ramesh asked about sharing the job contract or any other details about the company, the agent was not able to do it.
Getting duped by the local agents or sub agents is not something new that is happening with the aspiring migrants rapidly. An urgent need of communicating this scenario with the family members of Ramesh was felt under the project in order to share about the repercussions of migrating unsafely with a tourist visa and getting cheated by the agent. A house visit was thus undertaken by the PIO where Ramesh’s wife, mother and younger brother were made aware about risks involved in migrating through local agents. After all the due efforts taken by the MRC, Ramesh and Suresh were saved from migrating unsafely and becoming victims of forced labour at destination gulf country. Being aware and informed always lead to a positive end.