Back Home From Ukraine Overseas Workers In Survival Crisis

After Return from Ukraine, Suman Adhikary being facilitated

Krishnanagar, March 7: A large number of Indians employed with different companies in the war-hit Ukraine, who have returned home, have found themselves in a sudden survival crisis. 

Many of these Indians, which include wage earners from Bengal too, have now become debt trapped having no idea how to refund the money they had borrowed from local money lenders at a high rate of interest to pay the agencies that arranged their jobs. 

To add to their woes, most of these workers have turned bankrupt to pay the hefty car fare using their small savings that they were compelled to hire to reach the neighboring countries in a bid to escape from Ukraine before boarding the Ghaziabad bound flights arranged by centre.

Many of such workers are expecting that centre would offer them a help package to get rid of such a financial crisis.

For overseas wage earners, Ukraine is the preferred destination among countries in European Union due to its low living cost. Agents of job-providing companies say that despite comparatively poor wages the country fascinates job seekers from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, and other South Asian countries, who pay between Rs.4 to 7 lakhs to get suitable jobs there.

Prior to breaking out of war around four thousand Indians were working in different private companies in many Ukrainian cities that including a good number from Bengal.

A number of such workers who returned home in Nadia and North 24 Parganas via Poland, broke down in tears while speaking to The NfN on Friday as they don’t know how to survive being trapped in such an unforeseen financial crisis.

Many of these workers have already made contact with some overseas job agencies, based in Calcutta and Mumbai, but none has offered any immediate solutions claiming a fall in demand of outsourced workers in the overseas market due to the Covid pandemic situation.

Amit Kumar Biswas, 36, a resident of Gobar Char village in Nadia’s Santipur, who worked with Courier company in Kyiv, said, “I don’t know what to do next. I have no money in my pocket. The small amount which I saved from my wage in Ukraine during the past few months is finished to pay car fares twice. I don’t know how to refund Rs.5.5 lakh which I borrowed to pay my job agent”.

“I was paying the amount on monthly installments to the moneylender. But in absence of a job and being bankrupt to save a life, it has now become impossible to refund the loan and to maintain a family of five heads”, added Amit, who went to Ukraine in September last year.

Suman Adhikari, 30, another youth from Nadia’s Santipur, who was employed as a delivery agent with an e-commerce company, echoed a similar concern. “Earlier I worked in Gulf but last year went to Ukraine for a better future since living cost is cheaper there. I paid Rs.5 lakh to an agent taking the money on loan. But everything unsettled now due to war”.

“There is a possibility to return to Ukraine to rejoin the same job as nobody knows when the situation is normal. But I have returned the borrowed amount. I am in financially bankrupt condition. As the small amount of money which I saved since joining the company in Kyiv in August last year had been used to pay the hefty fare of car, which I and some other Indians compelled to hire twice to reach Poland border escaping from Kyiv”, Suman further added.

Indians like Suman Adhikari, Amit Kumar Biswas, Samir Buses had to rent cars to reach Lviv town first, around 100 km from Kyiv paying Rs.75000 in Indian currency. They had to hire a separate car later to reach the Poland border from Lviv city of Ukraine, paying around Rs.15000 further in Indian currency.

“We had no option but the exhaust our small savings to save lives despite knowing this would make our survival a real challenge. A new job could change the situation. But, the overseas job market is quite sick now with many companies imposed financial embargo due to loss they suffered due to Covid situation”, Suman said.

An agent of an overseas job providing company in Calcutta said, “The job market has been suffering a crisis due to Covid situation. The Russia Ukraine conflict further worsened the situation. Many Indians who worked in Ukraine have made contact with us. But, we could not so far offer them any fresh suitable opportunities”.

But fresh job seekers like Samir Biswas, Amit Kumar Biswas, and many others like them availing fresh opportunities abroad would not be possible at all since that would require fresh payment to the agents. 

“How can afford to try for the new job whereas I owe about Rs.5 lakh to the moneylender, which I needed to refund first. It is not just me, but many like me would face similar problem”, he added.

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