Bangladeshis Fled From Libya
Over 7,000 to come home in 5 days
More than 7,000 Bangladeshis, who fled to Egypt and Tunisia to escape the deadly conflict in Libya, will come home in the next five days.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is facilitating the repatriation in 24 charter flights.
Briefing the reporters, Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes yesterday said 6,641 Bangladeshis have already been repatriated from the trouble-torn North African country, while another 23,000 are waiting to fly home.
He said there are 7,000 Bangladeshis at the Al Salloum border in Egypt, some 14,000 at Rasjdir in Tunisia and 1,156 in Greece.
More than 2,740 Bangladeshis are due to arrive in Dhaka from Greece and Tunisia today. Of them, 954 will come from Greece in two flights and 1,786 from Tunisia in seven flights.
The foreign secretary said the IOM is playing a crucial role in repatriating the Bangladeshis. The Bangladesh government will share the cost with the IOM, he added.
Meantime, 373 Bangladeshis have been evacuated by a private company from Libya’s eastern city Benghazi to Alexandria in Greece.
As of yesterday, 350 Bangladeshis were stranded in Tripoli Airport and another 50 in the Bangladesh mission there.
In another development, the Greece government has declined to receive any more Bangladeshi refugees from Libya following the death of three evacuees and missing of over a dozen Bangladeshis, who jumped from a ship on way to Crete Island on Sunday.
The dead are: Mohan Kamal (passport no C 0446731), son of Shahab Ali of Bijoypur village under Gournadi upazila in Barisal; Mohammad Shafiqul Azam (passport no X 0205861), Son of Abdul Aziz of Bank Colony at Savar; and Farid Khalifa (Passport no A 0215178), son of Nurul Haq Khalifa of village Domrakandi under Muksudpur upazila of Gopalganj.
Their bodies will be flown to Dhaka by a chartered flight of Korean Airlines today.
In the same flight, 202 Bangladeshi citizens, the last batch from Greece, will also come home.
Eleven of the 15 Bangladeshis who jumped from the ship were still missing, said the foreign secretary.
Asked whether Greece will continue to receive Bangladeshi refugees following the incident on Sunday, the foreign secretary said: “We appreciate the effort the Greece government is making for the repatriation of the Bangladeshis from Libya. We are grateful to them,”
Official sources said the Greece government informed Bangladesh that “their capacity is stressed and it would not be possible for them to receive any more Bangladeshis from the strife-torn Libya”.
Another 146 Bangladeshis recruited by South Korean company Hanil have been refused to be brought home, he said.
Meanwhile the IOM has expressed concern over the plight of foreign workers who are still stranded in Libya.
“The IOM is greatly concerned at the plight of the Libyans and the migrants who are still stranded inside Libya,” IOM Director General William Lacy Swing said yesterday.
Libya has around 15 lakh foreign populations including some 60,000 Bangladeshis, mostly contractual workers.
Since February 20, nearly 2.13 lakh migrants have fled to Libya’s borders with Tunisia, Egypt, Niger and Algeria.
Besides, employing companies from China, South Korea, Turkey and Malaysia have evacuated a good number of their workers, including Bangladeshis.
In Ras Adjir of Tunisia and Salum of Egypt, there are still around 21,000 Bangladeshis along with some other nationals who are living in camps and are gradually being repatriated by the IOM.
Bangladeshis who do not have any other means of travelling to the borders, are staying in Libya, IOM Regional Representative Rabab Fatima told journalists at a press briefing at its Dhaka office.
Meanwhile, the IOM on Monday appealed to the international community for $49.2 million dollars to overcome the crisis.
The funds would allow the organization to assist in the evacuation of up to 65,000 migrants including those still trapped inside the country, an IOM statement said.
The money will also enable the IOM to continue humanitarian assistance including food, water, shelter, healthcare and travel assistance to the migrants, it added.
“The longer the crisis continues in Libya, the more people are going to need help,” said the IOM DG. “We have to make sure their suffering is not prolonged.”
Asked about the rehabilitation of the Bangladeshis returning from Libya, Rabab Fatima said the Bangladesh government should have a plan as to how much the IOM can contribute.
The corporate sector of the country should come forward to employ them, she added.
Courtesy of The Daily Star