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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Bangladeshis to be relocated if crisis deepens : says minister

                                 Belal Hossain Biplob
The government considers relocating the Bangladeshi workers from Libya to other North African countries if the situation there deteriorates further, says Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain.
"Libya is now witnessing a security risk as internal fighting is going on among different groups. We are observing the entire situation. In any emergency we will relocate our people to the neighbouring countries like Tunisia or elsewhere,” he told The Daily Star yesterday.
The minister added they would seek assistance from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) or Red Cross to send the Bangladeshis to safer zones. He however did not elaborate on the process of relocation.
"I advise our people to avoid the conflict zones and not to take any risk for work in the war situation. They should be mentally prepared to go to other places in any emergency," Mosharraf said.
The government considers relocating around 50,000 Bangladeshis working in Libya following two of its nationals were taken hostages allegedly by Islamic State militants on March 6.
The ISIS militants allegedly kidnapped the two Bangladeshis -- Helal Uddin from Jamalpur and Anowar Hossain from Noakhali -- along with seven other foreigners from al-Ghani oilfield to the south of the Libyan city of Sirte.
"I believe our two people will get released soon as they do not belong to any of the conflicting groups," the minister expressed his hope.
The Bangladeshi migrants are facing serious security threats in moving from one city to another in the face of severe internal conflicts since May last year.
Their perils caused serious concern among their family members back home.
A son of one of the Bangladeshi migrants has recently posted to the website of Bangladesh embassy in Tripoli expressing his concern.
"I can't study properly. All time I have to worry for my father. I fear something may happen to him," wrote Kabir Hossain. "… Sir, I want my father back in Bangladesh. I don't know how you will do it," he added.
Suraia, daughter of another Bangladeshi migrant, wrote, "My father lives in Al-Quwarsha, Benghazi. You [embassy officials] know the situation there better than we do. There is no gas, water or electricity supply. People are struggling for life there."
Expressing concerns over the loss of her father's passport, she urged, "Please advise us how my father can get a new passport or if there is any alternative to returning to Bangladesh without it."
Officials at the Bangladesh embassy in Tripoli admitted that they had been passing days with serious security risk as the once oil-rich country could not come out of political turmoil for long.
"It is almost impossible to run normal activities in this volatile situation. We can't help people, who want to return home because there is no air link between Libya and Dhaka now,” Ahsan Kibria Siddiqui, first secretary at the embassy, told The Daily Star over phone.
At least 27 Bangladeshis have so far died in Libya in the last 10 months since June 2014. Of them, at least six were killed after they fell into the attacks among different fighting groups.
The government has suspended sending workers to Libya since May last year against such a situation.
Libya has been witnessing internal conflicts from several groups since the overthrow of long-time ruler Col Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011.

Source:  The Daily Star, 12 March 2015

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