Statement by H.E. Mr. Masud Bin Momen, Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh at 2023 International Dialogue on Migration (IDM) panel discussion on “Empowering Diasporas, Migrants and Displaced Persons as Development Agents”, 30 March 2023, UNHQs

Mr. Moderator, Distinguished Panelists, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

A very good afternoon to you all.

I thank the IOM for organizing this dialogue.

Migration has always been an integral component of human existence. Over time, migration has appeared as a key driver for achieving sustainable development. Diasporas, in particular, are a great resource, not only for the countries they migrate to but also for their countries of origin. Diasporas bring benefits from their skills, culture and innovative ideas and contribute to trade and investment, technology transfer and poverty reduction.



Ensuring safe, orderly, and regular migration is essential for a peaceful, stable and prosperous world. We often forget that the twenty-first century is built on human mobility. Despite their significant contribution to the economic growth in the countries of origin and destination, migrants continue to be the worst victims of widespread inequalities, racism and xenophobia.

With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, in many places, migrants were denied of their rights, even denied access to vaccines and urgent health care services. Thousands lost their jobs. Many of them had to return under duress. Many faced wage theft, and protracted separation from their families.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Bangladesh’s journey from a war-ravaged LDC to a robust development model has been marked by significant contribution of the migrants and diaspora. Bangladesh is the sixth largest migrant-sending country, with more than 13 million living outside the country. About 19% of the migrant workers from Bangladesh are women.

In Bangladesh, we have taken a whole of government and whole of society approach for the migration management. And we are working closely with the government, law makers, civil society, migrant workers, NGOs, private sectors, UN Agencies and the foreign governments. Our flagship policy document, the Eighth Five Year Plan (2020-2025) highlights the need to address the environment, climate change adaptation and mitigation in a broader development context.

Now coming to the point on how can the policymakers and diaspora collaborate official development assistance and financial flows.

Allow me to share some of our experiences:

First – remittance. The remittance sent by Bangladesh diaspora and the migrants accounts for over 235 billion US dollars since 1976.

The remittances have contributed to Bangladesh’s GDP and helped Bangladesh emerge as an exemplary economic growth story in the region. According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, remittances added about $100 to the country’s per capita GDP. It not only provides a major share of our foreign reserve, the consistency and dependability of remittances sent by Bangladeshi migrants and the diaspora have been a critical safety net for our communities, especially in the rural areas.

In order to create an environment where migrants and diaspora can contribute effectively, our government has taken multiple initiatives. For example, the Central Bank of Bangladesh more than tripled the ceiling on its 2019 cash incentive scheme – whereby remittance beneficiaries receive a 2 per cent bonus on transfers made using formal channel – up to 5,000 US dollars. Additionally, some commercial banks are providing an additional one per cent incentive to increase the attractiveness of sending remittances through formal channel.

Second – business networks. The Bangladeshi diaspora represents a major export market which allows the diversification of the country’s exports. It has also helped in the socio-economic and political development of the community members living abroad.

According to the International Labour Organisation, a network of Bangladeshi restaurants in Britain provides employment to Bangladeshi migrant workers who come on short-term contracts. In one of their report it was said that, “relatives play an important role in the management of such businesses in Bangladesh, and diaspora investors prefer to give employment opportunities to the members of their own home community”.

How can policy makers leverage these networks?

One way could be to engage with them to customize national skills development policies. Data from IOM shows that skilled labour migrants send on average 255 US dollars more per month than lower skilled migrants. Migrants’ skills also determine how remittances are invested and saved. Lower skilled workforce yields lower return on migration.

Initiatives can also be taken at the host country, where, unskilled or semi-skilled workers can be trained further in available institutes after their arrival. These will ensure their job security and will also improve the quality of their services.


Third – investments and philanthropy. Diaspora in particular can be a critical source for foreign direct investment and thus mobilize resources for the country. In Bangladesh, ‘wage earners development bond’ has proved to be a good model. We have also established an Expatriate Welfare Bank which works as a critical link between the diaspora and the country.

Bangladeshi diaspora has also been contributing in increasing financial flows through wide ranging charity activities. When Bangladesh announced a lockdown following the outbreak of the Covid-19, the Bangladeshi diaspora launched a campaign #BacharLorai (which means, Fight for Survival) to mobilize funds to distribute food supplies to tens of thousands of people.

There are also very encouraging business models established by diaspora. For example, business models like ‘Bikash’ or ‘Pathao’, which came from diaspora, have led to transformative changes in our society, not only in economic development, but also in by triggering small scale online based entrepreneurship. These have also had direct impacts in empowering women and youth in Bangladesh.


We should actively create conditions for migrants and diasporas to fully contribute to sustainable development. This requires their empowerment and a global policy framework for their meaningful engagements. We have to engage migrants and diasporas, including women and youth across local, national, regional, and global policy agendas for the benefits of societies.  We need to design policies to protect and safeguard their rights against all forms of discrimination, including social, economic and cultural.

The first International Migration Review Forum and the Global Diaspora Summit, both held in 2022 reflected these and committed for delivery on the ground. In particular, the Global Diaspora Summit served for the advancement of objective 19 of the GCM which is to create conditions for migrants and diasporas to fully contribute to sustainable development in all countries – and of the 2030 Agenda.


In conclusion, let me share some ideas as to how the development partners and host countries can contribute:

First – Diaspora can be an important force, especially those living in developed countries, to push ODA policies in advanced countries. The advanced economies have not yet met their 0.7% ODA commitment. It is more important now than ever that the developed countries fulfill their ODA commitment, and deliver at least 0.15 to 0.20% of their GNI to the LDCs and the most vulnerable countries.

Second: We must collaborate further to ensure effectiveness of ODA and foreign financial flows. It is critically important that the hard-earned remittance as well as official development assistance are utilized in realizing national development priorities. One way could be promoting a tripartite model involving the diaspora, the development partners and the national government.

Third: We need to nurture the successful business models of diaspora, particularly in the field of ICT – enabled start-up and other ventures. Official development assistance can be directed towards that sector through collaboration between diaspora entrepreneurs and the host government.

Finally, the development partners can consider investing in skills development, ICT education, bridging digital divide and building capacity in developing countries, including through the use of ODA. A skilled workforce is an asset for both host country and the country of origin.

I thank you all.

Joi Bangla.