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Mediterranean capsize survivors unwilling to return home

  • Published at 09:04 pm May 22nd, 2019
Inflatable boat
File photo of inflatable boat that sank off the coast of Libya resulting in many deaths of migrants AFP

15 Bangladeshis who returned home on Tuesday are not among the May-9 boat capsize survivors

Most of the Bangladeshi migrants who survived the May-9 boat capsize in the Mediterranean Sea are unwilling to return home, says an official.

Only three of them have wished to come back and they are likely to board a Dhaka-bound flight on Thursday.

“We cannot force them to go back home if they do not want to. But we are trying to convince them,” ASM Ashraful Islam, labour counsellor at the Bangladesh Embassy in Libya, told Dhaka Tribune on Wednesday.

He also confirmed that the 15 Bangladeshis who returned home on Tuesday were not among the survivors of the May-9 incident.

Ashraful said they were from a different group that was rescued by Tunisian coastguards from another boat stranded at sea between May 10 and 12. “Both incidents occurred around the same time, which is the likely reason behind the confusion.”

Also Read- 15 returnees not survivors of Tunisia capsize

“That boat had run out of fuel and was spotted by the Tunisian authorities. Later, the migrants were rescued and handed over to the International Organization for Migration,” he added.

A senior foreign ministry official also said that those Bangladeshis had started for Italy on a vessel from a coastal city in Libya, with 60-65 others, but were left stranded at sea when the boat ran out of fuel.

A Turkish Airlines flight carrying the 15 migrants landed at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka around 5:50am on Tuesday, said Ataur Rahman, on-duty official at the airport’s Expatriates’ Welfare Desk.

None of them had passports, and they were issued travel passes, he said.After their arrival, Ataur said, members of law enforcement agencies talked to them and they were later handed over to their families.

More than 60 migrants, most of whom were Bangladeshis, died after two boats — carrying over 100 migrants — capsized in the Mediterranean Sea, off the Tunisian coast, on May 9 and 10.