National, Front Page

Majority of migrant voyage victims are Bangladeshis

63pc in prison in Libya, 79 per cent victims of torture

Published : 23 Feb 2024 10:19 PM | Updated : 23 Feb 2024 10:26 PM

Bangladeshis continue to put their lives in jeopardy while trying to cross the dangerous Central Mediterranean Route from Libya to Europe, despite the horrifying risks and false promises of wealth. 

The temptation of a better life endures for many, despite the sobering truths revealed by a recent study by the private group BRAC, which examined the experiences of 557 returned migrants.

The study has been done by analyzing 50 types of information on each of the 557 Bangladeshis who returned from Libya, 

starting from their journey, destination, money, persecution, rescue and others.

For the past decade, Bangladesh has been in the top ten in the list of countries from where people risk their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach their dream destination in Europe. This is often the result of boats capsizing on their way from the north African nation - Libya to Italy across the Mediterranean Sea.

According to UNHCR data, from 2015 to June this year, 2.5 million people from various countries crossed the sea to Europe. About 22,000 people lost their lives by drowning in the sea. There are many Bangladeshis among them.

According to Frontex, which is responsible for coordinating Europe’s border guards, Bangladeshis make the most attempts to enter Europe by crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya. It is known as the Central Mediterranean Route. From 2009 to 2023, at least 70,906 Bangladeshis have entered Europe.

Most often people are losing their valuable lives taking this route. According to the latest information, on February 15, nine Bangladeshis lost their lives in a boat sinking on their way from Libya. 26 Bangladeshis were rescued in injured condition. But even then such a journey does not stop. On Thursday, 144 Bangladeshis returned from Libya.

BRAC’s Associate Director Shariful Hasan said that the majority of migrants hail from specific regions such as Shariatpur, Madaripur, Faridpur, Sylhet, Sunamganj, Noakhali, and Cumilla. These vulnerable populations are targeted by local brokers who deceive them with false promises of employment and a pathway to Europe.

Tragically, the reality for many migrants includes being held captive in camps, subjected to physical abuse, and deprived of necessities such as adequate food and freedom of movement. Despite the inherent dangers, the allure of Europe persists, driving individuals to undertake perilous sea journeys in overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels. Efforts to curb this crisis must address both the root causes and the facilitators of human trafficking. 

Hasan further said, “The need for coordinated action by law enforcement agencies is a must to dismantle trafficking networks and hold perpetrators accountable. At the same time, international intervention is crucial to address the instability in countries like Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan, which exacerbate the desperation driving migration.”

BRAC research shows that people between the ages of 26 and 40 are the most likely to attempt to enter Europe. Among them, 31 to 35 years old people are the most. 

According to the data of 557 Bangladeshis who returned to Libya, 60 per cent of their families were lured by local brokers for good jobs. But 89 per cent did not get a job or any work. On the contrary, they are at risk.

Analyzing the itinerary, it has been found that most people went to Libya from Dhaka via Dubai-Egypt route. Besides, Dhaka to Istanbul-Dubai to Libya, Dhaka to Qatar to Libya, Dhaka to Dubai-Syria to Libya and a few people went directly to Libya from Dhaka.

According to the report, 63 per cent were captured on the way to Libya. Around 93 per cent of the prisoners were held in camps. 79 per cent of the prisoners are victims of physical torture. 

In addition, 68 per cent lost freedom of movement after arriving in Libya. 54 per cent said they never had three meals a day. At least 22 per cent received only one meal a day.

Thus, in response to the question of where they got the money to go to Europe through Libya, 56 per cent said that they collected this money themselves. 23 per cent said they received financial assistance from family.