Page last updated at 06:01 GMT, Friday, 10 April 2009 07:01 UK

Bangladesh migrant workers suffer

By Mark Dummett
BBC News, Dhaka

Migrant worker Mohammed Moslem back at Dhaka airport in March
A migrant worker arriving back from the Maldives last month

Bangladesh is seeing the return of hundreds of migrant workers every day as the global recession hits an economy reliant on remittances.

There are more than six million Bangladeshis working abroad, many in areas hit hard by the downturn.

Last year they sent home $9bn, which is more than any other industry.

Already they have been affected - last month Malaysia cancelled the visas of 50,000 Bangladeshi workers, saying jobs should be reserved for locals.

Dreams shattered

The problems could be seen clearly in the arrivals area of the airport in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka.

A group of 30 men were refusing to go home.

They flew here from Malaysia, where they worked in a furniture factory.

But the business went bust and they lost their jobs.

They could not find any more work and were finally deported.

Their dreams of returning to their home villages as wealthy men have been shattered.

They each paid about $3,000 to their agent for finding them work - a huge sum in Bangladesh and these men are now all in debt.

Bangladesh relies on its expatriate workers and the money they send home each month.

Most work in the Gulf, Malaysia, the US and UK - all places affected by the global economic crisis.

So far the government says only about 300 are returning every day.

But everyone here is afraid that these numbers will soon go up.

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