Published: June 14, 2019
Bangladesh embassy in Libya has warned the Bangladeshis living there not to take the risky sea journey towards Europe, citing the risks of drowning as well as surrounding countries’ strong position in not allowing entry to their territories.
The warning comes when a rescue boat carrying around 75 migrants, 64 of them from Bangladesh, has been stuck off Tunisia for 14 days as Tunisian authorities refused to let them disembark, the Red Crescent said on Tuesday.
The Egyptian boat rescued the migrants in Tunisian waters on May 31, but authorities in the governorate of Medinine say its migrant centers are too overcrowded to allow them to come ashore, leaving the vessel 25 km from the coastal city of Zarzis.
No European country also agreed to accept them.
“Tunisian Red Crescent is providing them food, but they are still in the sea,” said ASM Ashraful Islam, labour counsellor of Bangladesh embassy in Libya, today by phone.
Bangladesh Ambassador to Libya, Sheikh Sekander Ali, and a junior officer have already flown to Tunisia to hold meeting with Tunisian authorities.
“We will try to negotiate with the Tunisian authorities that we will send back our people home if they allow the people on the boat to disembark,” Ashraful Islam said.
The ambassador was scheduled to hold a meeting with Tunisian authorities today. The outcome would be known only after the meeting, he said.
At least 65 migrants drowned last month when their boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea off the Tunisian coast after they had left Libya hoping to reach Europe. Of them, some 40 Bangladeshis were feared dead, while 14 of them survived.
In the first four months of 2019, 164 people are known to have died on the route, a smaller number but a higher death rate than in previous years, the UN Refugee Agency said.
Apart from that, Libyan coastguard has intercepted a number of boats heading towards Europe and detained the migrants of different nationalities. Of them, there are also some Bangladeshis, according to a statement of Bangladesh embassy in Libya today.
It said Europe has taken a tough stance against the sea journeys by the migrants. On the other hand, Libyan coastguard too is enforcing strongly the maritime boundary.
“Under such circumstances, sea journeys have become impossible. On behalf of the embassy, we are requesting the Bangladeshis in Libya and their relatives and friends to be careful about such journeys,” Ashraful said.
There are an estimated of 20,000 Bangladeshis living in Libya, which has plunged into a civil war after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.