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Fighting in Libya: Condition of thousands of Bangladeshis gets worse, says Bangladesh ambassador

  • Published at 09:57 pm November 19th, 2019
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This picture taken on November 18, 2019 shows the aftermath of a reported air strike on a factory south of the Libyan capital Tripoli where several people were killed according to a spokesman of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) AFP

Bangladeshi migrants have remained in a vulnerable situation - caught in an increasingly unstable North African nation

The condition of tens of thousands of Bangladeshi migrants, who have been at risk since the war broke out in 2011 between various factions and violent militias in Libya, has gotten even worse after the renewed fighting, including bombing different targets, for the control of capital Tripoli began on April 4.

Tripoli has been literally under siege by the forces loyal to east Libya-based commander Khalifa Haftar, who wants to topple the government recognized by the United Nations.

"Yes, the situation is getting from bad to worse on a daily basis. Even our embassy is not safe from the indiscriminate shelling. An army school, which is some 200 metres away from our mission premises were bombed twice and splinters eventually hit our embassy," Bangladeshi Ambassador to Libya, Sk Sekander Ali told Dhaka Tribune from Tripoli on Tuesday.  

"It is needless to say that the condition of Bangladeshis living in Libya is getting worse as everyone in the country is vulnerable," he said, adding that on Monday alone there were two more bombings apart from the one on a biscuit factory that killed seven people, including one from Bangladesh.

The deceased Bangladeshi national is identified as Mohammad Babulal from Rajshahi, ASM Ashraful Islam, counselor (labour) at the embassy in Tripoli, told this correspondent.

Bangladeshi migrants have remained in a vulnerable situation - caught in an increasingly unstable North African nation.

Once the legal formalities are completed, the Bangladesh mission will take steps to send the dead back home, he said.

Among the 15 injured in the bombing, Counselor Ashraful Islam said that they are being treated in three hospitals in Tripoli and the condition of one has remained what he described, "little bit critical."

"Others are expected to be released from the hospitals within 2-3 days," he said.

About the exact number of Bangladeshi migrants living in Libya right now, Ambassador Ali said: "It is very difficult to say. However, according to the estimate of our embassy in Tripoli, the figure is roughly 20,000."

Most of the Bangladeshis live in the cities and suburbs of Tripoli, Bengazi and Misrata, he added.

When asked why the government is not taking steps to send the Bangladeshis back home from Libya, the envoy said: "Following the renewed fighting that began on April 4, the government instructed us to send them back and also allocated funds for their safe return in the event, International Organization for Migration (IOM) does not help financially."

Bangladesh mission has already undertaken various measures; providing messages on a Facebook page, in an effort to persuade the Bangladeshis to return home, although most of the Bangladeshi migrants are reluctant to do so, he said. 

When asked over how many Bangladeshis has returned home since April 4, Sekander Ali would not give any number.

"I do not have the exact number with me as I am currently out of the embassy. But, very few, I could say," he said, adding: "Given the dangerous circumstances on the ground, we are trying to provide services to our people to the best of our ability."

Oil-rich Libya is facing economic collapse, political instability, and ongoing conflict between violent militias—and it remains Africa’s main departure point to Europe for migrants seeking safety and opportunity.

Following the 2011 revolution, which ended the 42-year regime of Muammar al-Gaddafi, civil war erupted in 2014. 

Despite international pressure, political reconciliation between rival governments in the east and west remains a distant prospect.