The New Humanitarian Annual Report 2021

  1. Home
  2. Asia
  3. Bangladesh

Migrants fare badly in Italy

Among men visiting commercial sex workers in Bangladesh, only 1.5 to 4.6 percent reported consistent condom usage.
(David Swanson/IRIN)

Relocating to Italy for work might not be such a good deal for Bangladeshis, says a report on the social impact of migration in Bangladesh to be released on 31 October.

“Migrants who have left recently have not been able, so far, to establish themselves in Italy in terms of finding a viable living in either business or employment… let alone remit money home,” said Nicoletta Del Franco, who carried out the study in Brahman Baria Sadar, eastern Bangladesh.

Commissioned by Terre des Hommes Italia (TDH), facilitated by the WARBE Development Foundation, and funded by the European Union, the study focused primarily on families affected by a new trend of migration from Bangladesh to Italy, the second most popular destination in Europe after the UK.

“Migration has long been an important livelihood strategy for the people of Bangladesh. Though most attention is devoted to remittances and their uses, it is also important to promote migrants’ rights and look into the situation faced by families who are left behind,” said Patrizia Gattoni, TDH country representative in Bangladesh.

Fixer fees

According to the Italian Bureau of Statistics (ISTAT), around 70,000 Bangladeshi’s are regularly residing in Italy; a number which doubles if you include those who arrived through alternative methods, according to an estimate of the ISMU Foundation.

The research shows some migrants pay up to $20,000 to different kinds of intermediaries with a promise, not always fulfilled, of obtaining proper documentation and a job, often as a labourer. Others take higher risks by trying to enter through irregular channels for up to $10,000.

As a result, only relatively prosperous families can support the huge cost of legal migration, which typically requires borrowing a large sum of money.

Bangladesh Immigrants to Europe

Italy 70,000
Greece 11,000
Spain 7,000
Germany 5,000
Source: Bangladeshi Government

In the current financial environment, the traditional method of sending money home to pay off this debt and supporting the family is becoming less feasible, leading to more and more stranded migrants, some even needing relatives in Bangladesh to support them financially.

Families with inadequate savings run the risk of losing their land, putting pressure on the women and children to provide economic support.

“The report highlights the need to create safety nets for parents, wives and children to [help them] face possible situations of economic difficulty... [and] find ways to raise awareness of the potential hazards of migration,” Del Franco said.

Another research paper to be released simultaneously looks at Bangladeshi migrant workers in the Italian labour market.

In 2009 Bangladeshis working overseas sent back more than US$10.7 billion, according to the International Organization for Migration - more than the total amount of international aid to Bangladesh.

The total number of Bangladeshis - both legal and illegal - in Italy is over 135,000, according to the ISMU Foundation, an independent organization promoting research on multi-ethnicity.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

Share this article
Join the discussion

Right now, we’re working with contributors on the ground in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries to tell the stories of people enduring and responding to a rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis.

We’re documenting the threats to humanitarian response in the country and providing a platform for those bearing the brunt of the invasion. Our goal is to bring you the truth at a time when disinformation is rampant. 

But while much of the world’s focus may be on Ukraine, we are continuing our reporting on myriad other humanitarian disasters – from Haiti to the Sahel to Afghanistan to Myanmar. We’ve been covering humanitarian crises for more than 25 years, and our journalism has always been free, accessible for all, and – most importantly – balanced. 

You can support our journalism from just $5 a month, and every contribution will go towards our mission. 

Support The New Humanitarian today.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.