The Libyan government has banned Bangladeshi workers from entering the country because many of them were trying to travel to Europe by boat illegally, an official spokesman said on Saturday.
‘Bangladeshi workers will be banned from entry into Libya,’ said Hatem Uraibi, spokesman for Libya’s internationally recognised government, according to Reuters.
‘They come for work for Libyan firms but then embark on illegal migration (to Europe),’ Uraibi told Reuters. ‘The ban is part of government efforts to fight illegal emigration.’
The ban came at a time when thousands of Myanmar’s Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants were feared adrift on boats in the Andaman Sea as traffickers abandoned them after a Thai crackdown threw the human trafficking route into chaos. Many of the migrants are hungry, thirsty and sick. Nearly 2,500 migrants arrived in Indonesia and northwest of Malaysia over the past week, according to newspaper reports.
Spokesman for Libya’s government gave no more details on the ban which would only apply for land borders, ports and airports in eastern Libya where the internationally recognised government is in control.
Asked about Libyan ban on manpower export, expatriates welfare and overseas employment minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain confirmed the news of ban, but said that the Libyan authorities have taken the move to stop movement of undocumented migrants.
‘The Libyan government would not ban the Bangladeshi workers who would go there legally by taking legal jobs with emigration clearance from Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training,’ the minister added.
Tasneem Siddiqui, Professor of Political Science and Founding Chair of the Refugee and Migrating Movements Research Unit at Dhaka University, said that the latest ban from Libyan government would tarnish the image of Bangladesh and its total labour migration across the world.
According to Bureau of Manpower, Employment Training, Libya has been recruiting Bangladeshi workers since 1976 and it has so far recruited more than 120,000 workers.
Officials said around 50,000 Bangladeshi workers are currently living in Libya.
Earlier on July 31 last year, in a press statement, the foreign ministry advised all Bangladeshi nationals not to travel to Libya until the situation in the country was stable.
Bangladesh’s traditional labour markets, including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Malaysia, continued shrinking as the countries reduced import of workers from Bangladesh over last few years despite the government efforts to reopen the markets.
The North African country, gripped by violence and a breakdown of state authority four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi, has turned into a major hub for human traffickers smuggling African migrants by boat to Italy.
Western Libya, the main launch pad for smugglers sending boatloads of migrants towards Italian shores, is controlled by a rival government set up after an armed group seized Tripoli in August.
As many as 900 people may have died last month off Libya’s coast when their packed boat capsized as they were trying to reach the Italian island of Lampedusa. Many thousands more have managed to make the crossing in an almost daily exodus by boats.
The UN refugee agency says 51,000 migrants have entered Europe by crossing the Mediterranean so far this year. The flow has prompted European Union plans for naval and air operations to target smuggler vessels.
Libya is mired in conflict between the two rival governments allied to former rebel groups which helped topple Gaddafi but now fight each other in a complicated power struggle involving tribes, competing regions, Islamists and political parties.
Source: New Age