170 return from war-torn Libya today | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 22, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:18 AM, September 22, 2020

170 return from war-torn Libya today

A group of 170 Bangladeshis is expected to be repatriated from war-torn Libya in a chartered flight today.

They include about 40 individuals, who have been rescued off the Libyan coast during their attempts to reach Europe via illegal sea route over the past two or three months.

The Bangladesh Embassy in Libya has enlisted the 170 Bangladeshis, who agreed to return voluntarily, while the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the UN migration agency, has been supporting the repatriation process.

The flight is scheduled to take off around 12:00pm (local time) from the Mitiga International Airport in Tripoli, according to a social media post of the Bangladesh mission there.

The flight is expected to reach Dhaka Wednesday early morning.

Bangladesh Ambassador in Libya Sk Sekander Ali yesterday said the number of the total returnees may drop depending on their health condition, as a final health check-up will be held before the take-off.

"We will be able to tell exactly how many will return after their boarding tomorrow [today]," he told this newspaper by phone.

Confirming IOM's assistance in the repatriation process, the ambassador said previously a primary health check-up of the returnees was completed after they got registered with the embassy.

He said because of a deteriorating political situation, direct international flights had not been operated from Libya for quite long. The coronavirus pandemic has worsened the situation.

Amid this, the Bangladeshis who wanted to return home and also got stranded for past several months sought the embassy's help for the flight arrangement, said the ambassador.

The embassy then registered them and sought help from IOM in this regard, he said.

IOM will soon arrange another chartered flight for a similar repatriation, he added.

According to the ambassador, Libya is home to about 20,000 to 25,000 Bangladeshis.

On the other hand, different international organisations, especially IOM, assessed the number could be nearly 20,000.

Ambassador Sekander said at present many Bangladeshis employed under sponsor are having the opportunity to get paid on a regular basis.

Libya was plunged into chaos when a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi, who was later killed, according to Al Jazeera.

The country has since split between rival east and west-based administrations, each backed by armed groups and foreign governments.

The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed after a series of military offensives by forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar.

When the current conflict in Libya began in February 2011, many of the migrant communities were left to fend for themselves, some abandoned by their employers in remote areas with limited supplies.

In May this year, 26 Bangladeshi migrants were murdered by alleged human traffickers in the city of Mizdah.


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