Thursday, July 18, 2024

Dhaka seeks IOM help for evacuation

Bangladeshis in Libya
Dhaka seeks IOM help for evacuation
Amid reports of deteriorating conditions of Bangladeshis in Libya, Bangladesh yesterday formally requested the International Organization for Migration to relocate them and arrange food for them.
“In light of the latest prevailing situation the government has made a formal request to IOM for assisting the temporary relocation of Bangladeshis and arrange shelter, food and water where possible,” said a statement of IOM Dhaka office.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, said Bangladesh is concerned about the safety and welfare of Bangladesh nationals. Some Bangladeshis, however, took refuge in Bangladesh embassy in Tripoli, while a few hundred have moved to the borders of Egypt and Tunisia.
The ministry is dispatching additional officers who will be arriving at the Libyan borders with Egypt and Tunisia. Bangladesh embassy in Egypt is in touch with those arriving on Egypt border, it said.
Bangladesh Ambassador to Libya M Nuruzzaman told UNB last night that Chinese State Company has agreed to evacuate 700 workers from Benghazi to Egypt and South Korean Own Company will evacuate 450 Bangladeshi workers in a day or two.
The actions came at a time when thousands of Bangladeshis, mainly low-paid workers, left by their employers in the camps are regularly becoming victims of looting and attacks by Libyans.
Libya is in grave turmoil with massive street protest against the rule of Muammar Gaddafi.
Talking to The Daily Star, the workers described their horrendous stories. Left by their employers and running short on food, they had to watch Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos, Egyptians workers leave the country.
Shaheed Uddin, from a camp in Tripoli yesterday, said Libyans set fire to a labour camp and looted valuables Thursday night. The camp housed around 1,000 Bangladeshi workers. One Bangladeshi was killed and some others got injured, he claimed.
“Those Bangladeshis then fled wherever they could,” he said, adding that such incidents have become regular and his camp housing 300 workers could be next.
The attacks occur mainly during the night when Libyan men and women throw them out of the camps and loot their belongings, Shaheed said, adding, “The whole day is quiet due to curfew. In the night comes gun fights and looting.”
An official of the expatriates’ welfare ministry said they heard of an attack on a labour camp in Tripoli where some Bangladeshis were injured but there were no reports of deaths.
Shaheed said they had lunch yesterday with rice and lentil but there was no food left for any further meals.
In Shaheed’s camp there are nationals of Egypt, Philippines, Thailand and Sudan who are leaving Libya with the assistance of their governments.
Monir Hossain of Dohar in Nawabganj said his brother Amir Hossain was jobless among 100 others for the last four months. Amir wanted to return home four months ago but the Libyan company did not allow him to.
Robbing them off money and mobile phones is normal, he said, adding that with the situation becoming turbulent, the Bangladeshis are in crisis now.
“My brother does not even have the money to call me. He just hangs up before we pick up so that we can call back. He talks about his worries,” Monir said.
Describing the food situation in Libya, UN food agency said Libya’s food supply chain is at risk of collapse, reports the BBC.
In the last few days, The Daily Star talked to stranded groups of Bangladeshis in Libya who told horrifying stories urging the government to take immediate action to bring them home or shift them to safer places.
Of around 50,000 Bangladeshis in Libya, 5,000 are in Benghazi, which is now under the control of the rebels. Around 30,000 are in Tripoli while the rest in other parts of the north African nation.
Those in Benghazi were trying to move towards the Egyptian border, but those in Tripoli are in trouble, as they are unable to move due to curfew in day time and clashes in the nights.
The IOM said about 750 Bangladeshis are moving towards Egyptian border.
Bangladesh government is asking Bangladeshis in Libya to move to the safer places, even to Tunisia and Egypt, said a foreign ministry official.
Tunisia and Egypt have also been requested to allow Bangladeshis to enter even if they do not have travel documents, he said.
Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Secretary Zafar Ahmed Khan said the government is looking at all the options–relocating the workers to safe places within Libya, out of Libya and bringing them home.
“We have asked our civil aviation authority for flights, which may be required any time for evacuation of our people,” he said. He said a Chinese and a Malaysian company have agreed to shift the Bangladeshis to other countries.
Meanwhile, the IOM has made urgent appeal for an initial $11 million to assist migrants caught out by the violence in Libya and who are in dire need of evacuation and repatriation assistance. This fund would be used to help 50,000 migrants in trouble.
The countries that formally approached the IOM for help include Egypt, Bangladesh, Moldova, Montenegro, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
The IOM officials are in the borders of Egypt and Tunisia. The initial fund would allow the IOM to immediately set up evacuee reception and processing centres at both sites and ensure better registration of and assistance to migrants crossing Libya’s borders with its neighbours.
The centres would also serve as crisis information points as well as staging areas for the provision of transportation assistance to migrants.
If the situation in Libya further deteriorates, the organisation could plan evacuating them home, said an IOM spokesperson, adding that joint team of the United Nations agencies started visiting the Egyptian border city of Sallum yesterday.
However, airports, road communication and telecommunication networks in Libya are not fully functional and under security risk, which is hampering humanitarian efforts by any international organisation, the IOM statement said.
Meanwhile, at least 40,000 people have already crossed into Tunisia and Egypt in the last few days with more arriving every day.
Thailand evacuated the first 600 of 23,000 Thai workers to Tunisia, while China arranged to evacuate half its 30,000 citizens in Libya on four ferries chartered from Greece.
South Korea is expected to send a chartered flight to Libya to evacuate its nationals.
The Indian government has said it will operate two flights a day out of Libya for the next 10 days to evacuate 18,000 nationals, reports the BBC.
CONTROL ROOM
Guest workers and their relatives have been asked to contact the Expatriates’ welfare ministry control room.
The contacts: 7168606; Mobile: 01712245986, 01912899102, 01712205155, 01731015257, 01819261735, 01715029123, 01678000137, 01914871118, 01552368551, 01819262175, 01714040093.
Fax: 7160688, 8319948, 9353203 and emails: js@probashi.gov.bd, js@probashi.gov.bd, js.emp@probashi.gov.bd, js.emp@probashi.gov.bd, ahmkamal2020@yahoo.com and ahmkamal2020@ yahoo.com.

 

Courtesy of The Daily Star

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