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Dhaka Tribune

Uncertainty looms over Bangladeshi expats stuck in Ukraine

For many, return to Bangladesh would be an end to their European dream 

Update : 27 Feb 2022, 12:00 PM

Iqbal Hossain, a Bangladeshi student at Kyiv National Economic University, has been living in the Ukraine capital for almost three years.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he now wants to move to a safer location in Poland, but does not want to return to Bangladesh.

Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Iqbal said he would suffer both academically and financially if he came back.

There are many students like him who have left or plan to exit the war-torn country temporarily but do not want to return to Bangladesh, leaving behind their settled life.

Some of the Bangladeshi nationals of the northern state of Ukraine could not cross the 900km border into Poland or any other border. They are now stuck in Kharkiv, Odessa, Dnipro and other states. 

They were seeking to leave Ukraine but could not do so. They have decided not to return to the country and will be observing the situation for a few more days. 

Md Rifat Bhuiyan and Foysal Md Ziauddin Khan, medical students at Sumy State University in Ukraine, said they were in a predicament on fleeing to the Polish border due to a lack of transportation. 

The Polish border is nearly 1,000km away from the north eastern city of Sumy, the capital of Sumy Oblast.

Most of those who could not find a way to cross into Poland have taken refuge in various camps across Ukraine since the war began.

Wishing anonymity, a Bangladeshi national said he did not have a passport and had applied for a green card in January at a cost of about €12,000.

If he goes to Poland now for safety, he will have to come back to Bangladesh after 15 days as per an agreement between the two governments.

He said that he moved to Ukraine with a dream of settling in Europe. If he returned now, the promise of a better livelihood would turn into a nightmare.

He demanded that after people entered Poland, the government should arrange for them to stay in Poland temporarily until the situation in Ukraine was resolved.

However, the Polish authorities agreed to allow Bangladeshi citizens to enter Poland for 15 days only for transit purposes. 

All other intentions or actions by anyone will be treated as a violation of the agreement between Bangladesh and Poland, according to Bangladesh embassy sources in Warsaw.

A senior official of the Foreign Ministry said: "The government primarily took the decision to evacuate around 400 to 500 expatriates from Poland by arranging a charter flight."  

Mahbub Alam, local adviser at the Bangladesh consulate in Warsaw, told Dhaka Tribune: “So far, around 80 out of 1,500 Bangladeshi nationals have reached Poland. We are trying to extend all kinds of support to them to leave Ukraine.”

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