A sexagenarian was standing at the security barrier outside the arrival lounge at Hazrat Shahjajal International Airport on Thursday. Whenever any man came out from inside, his eyes was darting towards his face and then his face was breaking into a mask of disappointment, anxiety, fear, and extreme tiredness.
He is Kazi Fazlu, a dealer in sand of Gazipur, who has been waiting from February 28 for his only child Saiful Islam to arrive from Libya.
‘Since that day, I have been coming here every day in the morning and leaving for home at midnight,’ Fazlu said.
There were hundreds of others, men, women and children, waiting with thumping hearts for their near and dear ones stranded in Libya and at its borders with Egypt, Tunisia, and Niger. Most of them know nothing about the present whereabouts of their relatives, as only a few of them have received any message from or news about them from Libya since civil unrest turned into a violent popular uprising in the North African country.
At least 196 Bangladeshi nationals have returned home by five flights since Wednesday midnight till 7:00pm on Thursday from Libya via Egypt, Tunisia, and Italy, officials at the expatriates’ welfare desk at the airport said.
Family members of Bangladeshi expatriates in Libya have thronged the airport and been badgering the flight-information centre officials into near insanity about arrival of flights carrying Bangladeshis from Libya.
Like Kazi Fazlu of Gazipur, Atiar Rahman, a 50-year-old shopkeeper of Jenaidah, and his wife were scanning the exit of the arrival lounge for the miracle to happen – of getting back their son Emran Hossain, who had gone to Libya about 18 months back.
Asked how long they would stay there, Emran’s mother Shirin Akhter Shreya, crying with her eyes covered by her scarf, said she would not leave the airport until she met her child.
Shirin, who was praying sitting on the floor, did not trust her husband and asked the people around her time to time about the situation in Libya and its bordering countries.
Some of the people, however, were finally rewarded with the news that their days of waiting were coming to an end. The arrival of one of the two chartered flights scheduled for Thursday afternoon was deferred to Friday morning and the other was yet to be confirmed, the spokesman of International Organisation for Migration said.
The IOM said it had expedited the evacuation programme for migrants stranded at the Libyan borders with Egypt and Tunisia without food or shelter in a freezing weather, as well as for those escaping to Niger. Several thousand Bangladeshi migrants have also been evacuated from Libya to countries like Turkey, Malta, and Greece, an IOM release said.
Some 1,632 Bangladeshi nationals have been repatriated till Thursday evening, according to the foreign ministry.
Of them, 247 could make it to home with the help of their employers and 1,483 were evacuated by the government in collaboration with the IOM.
Courtesy of New Age