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Libya main route to Europe

Human traffickers prey on Bangladeshi youths

Published : 07 Dec 2023 06:53 PM

Despite continuous drives by law enforcing agencies, the greedy human traffickers are still luring poor youths in the name of sending them to Europe at a low cost.

They prefer using Libya for illegally sending Bangladeshi victims to different European countries.

However, in most of the cases, they are falling victim to torture and illegal ransom after being taken hostage in the remote secret dens of the human traffickers.

Bangladeshi human traffickers in association with their international cohorts often torture innocent victims. At one stage, the victims are forced to request their parents living in the country to pay ransom amounts  again and again to save their lives from the hands of the greedy human traffickers, a senior police officer on condition of anonymity, told Bangladesh Post over phone.

He further said, “It is not possible for law enforcing agencies alone to combat the increasing incidents of human trafficking.”

All stakeholders should work together and must build massive awareness against human trafficking, he opined.

A leading migration expert however blamed the massive corruption of government officials for the rise in human trafficking to Europe using Libya.

He said, “If the officials who are working in the airports, especially in the immigration department, check all the travel documents properly, the trends of using Libya routes will be significantly decreased.”

In May 2020, human traffickers killed 26 Bangladeshi human trafficking victims in Libya.

After the tragic deaths of Bangladeshi illegal migrants in the African country, Bangladeshi security forces launched a massive operation against human trafficking across the country.

But as the vigilance of the law enforcing agencies declined, the human traffickers have become desperate again to use the Libya routes to traffick youths to Europe.

According to government records, at least 50,000 women were trafficked to India and other countries via India in the last 10 years. Many more illegally migrated to other countries and Europe through risky sea routes, offering money to traffickers.

Between May and June 2021, more than 500 Bangladeshi nationals were rescued by Libyan and Tunisian authorities while attempting to illegally migrate to Europe, mostly to Italy.

In May 2019, 37 Bangladeshis died when a refugee boat headed to Italy from Libya capsized in the 

    Mediterranean Sea . The tragic accident ended the lives of 60 illegal migrants in total.

There are frequent reports of Bangladeshi nationals being detained during their attempt to go to Europe through traffickers.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said that  the government is taking stern actions against trafficking networks active in Bangladesh.

Over the past few years, war-torn Libya has become one of the main gateways to Europe for Bangladeshis in desperate search of a better life. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), 158,508 refugees and illegal migrants crossed the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Europe. As many as 22,105 of them were Bangladeshis, the third-most prominent group by nationality after Tunisians and Libyans.

Recently, the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit (CTTC) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police received information  about the  human trafficking gangs based in Libya.

BRAC  spoke to about 2,500 people who returned from Europe and Libya in the past few years. They found that residents of Shariatpur, Madaripur, Dhaka, Munshiganj, Noakhali, Bhairab, Cumilla and Brahmanbaria were mainly taking the risky voyage to Europe.

    Meanwhile, a fresh batch of 145 irregular Bangladeshi citizens returned home from Libya on Wednesday by a chartered flight of Buraq Air, taking the total number of returnees to 398 so far.

The Bangladeshis were in Benghazi detention centre, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

On arrival at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, the destitute repatriated Bangladeshi citizens were welcomed by the officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The IOM gave each of them pocket money of Tk6500 and some food items.

The process of repatriating Bangladeshis trapped in Libya is ongoing with the efforts of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Bangladesh Embassy, Tripoli and with the financial support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Those who are in the detention centres of Libya will be brought back gradually.

As part of the repatriation process, 143 irregular Bangladeshi nationals detained at the Ainjera Detention Center in Tripoli were transferred on a chartered flight on November 28.

Another batch of 110 people was repatriated by a chartered flight on November 30.