Published: June 14, 2019
File photo of a boat, overcrowded with migrants, capsizing in the Mediterranean Reuters
The Bangladesh Embassy in Libya warns against travelling to Europe via sea
Bangladesh Ambassador to Libya Sk Sekandar Ali is currently in Tunisia to convince the authorities to allow the 64 Bangladeshi migrants, who are stranded in the Mediterranean Sea off the Tunisian coast, into the north African country, officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The 64 Bangladeshis are among the 75 migrants who were rescued by Egyptian authorities two weeks ago. The Egyptian vessel carrying the migrants have since been floating of the Tunisian coast, and the Tunisian authorities have refused to let them in.
To make matters worse, the stranded people have refused to come ashore, and are demanding to be allowed to continue their journey forward to Europe, the Foreign Ministry officials told Dhaka Tribune on Friday.
Amid the repeated attempts by Bangladeshis to go to Europe by sea, the Bangladesh Embassy in Libya issued a cautionary message on Friday, warning Bangladeshis citizens against sailing to Europe.
“On May 31, an Egyptian boat rescued 75 migrants, of which 64 are Bangladeshis, after the engine of the vessel carrying them broke down at sea,” a senior ministry official said.
“Since then, the Egyptian vessel with the rescued people onboard have been stranded off the Tunisian coast after the authorities refused to let them disembark, and the other European countries declined to accept them,” he told Dhaka Tribune.
“The people on the boat also do not want to disembark. Not only that, but they also demand that their boat be refuelled and they be allowed to go to Europe. They are also refusing food and medicine offered to them,” the senior Foreign Ministry official further said.
The stranded vessel is currently 25km away from the coastal city of Zarzis, he added.
Meanwhile, the Bangladeshi authorities, along with the international organizations, are trying to provide aid to the stranded migrants.
“They have been in the sea for 14 days. Naturally, their conditions are bad and the vessel carrying them has no fuel. Since we and the international organisations, including the Red Crescent Society, are aware of the situation, the stranded people will get the help they might require,” the ministry official said.
Another official said the Tunisians did not want to let the stranded migrants disembark, saying their migrant centres are already overcrowded.
The official said there were Bangladeshi citizens in the migrant centres, but could not provide the exact number.
“Our ambassador to Libya has gone to Tunisia. He, along with the officials from the Egyptian Embassy, and the international organizations are trying to find a solution to this problem. We have the Egyptians onboard for the negotiation as there are nine citizens from their country among the stranded migrants. All are trying to persuade the Tunisian government to let the migrants in, and the stranded people to give up the idea of continuing their journey to Europe,” he said.
“We will get a clearer picture of the situation once the ambassador sends us a report of his field visit.”
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Embassy in Libya issued a cautionary message asking all Bangladeshi not to undertake any venture to reach Europe by sea, saying due to the hard-line policy adopted by the European nations, it is now impossible to reach the continent from Libya.
The mission also requested all Bangladeshis living in Libya to remain cautious in this regard. At the same time, it was especially advised to keep the relatives and friends of those living in Libya informed of the warning.