Human traffickers kill 26 Bangladeshis in Libya

Human traffickers kill 26 Bangladeshis in Libya
Migrants resting on the floor of a detention center, amidst concerns over the spread of COVID-19 in the city of Zawiya, Libya. (Reuters)
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Updated 30 May 2020

Human traffickers kill 26 Bangladeshis in Libya

Human traffickers kill 26 Bangladeshis in Libya
  • Migrants were trying to reach Europe
  • Injured receiving medical help from migration body

DHAKA: Bangladeshi authorities are struggling to recover the bodies of 26 nationals after they were killed in a gunfight by human traffickers in Libya on Thursday.
A group of 42 migrants, including 38 Bangladeshis, was held captive by traffickers in Mizdah, around 180 kilometers from the capital Tripoli, the Bangladesh Embassy in Libya said, quoting one of the survivors.
The survivor said that they had paid between $8,000 and $10,000 to the traffickers to reach Europe through Libya, but that suddenly more money was demanded. As the hostages attacked and killed the leader of the Libyan traffickers, his associates started to shoot at them, killing 26 Bangladeshis and injuring another 12. The remaining four hostages were reportedly from Africa and also died during the gunfight.
“The injured people have bullet wounds and one of them is in critical condition, currently in a hospital in Tripoli with a severe brain injury,” A.S.M. Ashraful Islam, labor counselor at the Bangladesh Embassy to Libya, told Arab News on Friday. “The others are out of danger.”
The embassy said the International Organization for Migration (IOM) had helped by providing expert doctors and medical equipment for the injured, but that there were problems with recovering the dead.

FASTFACT

According to the UNHCR, more than 2 million illegal migrants from different Asian and African countries have entered Europe through the Mediterranean Sea since 2014.

“We have some difficulty in receiving the dead bodies of the Bangladeshi nationals from the town of Mizdah as the UN-recognized Libyan government of National Accord (GNA) doesn’t have enough control in that area,” Islam said. “Preservation of dead bodies for a long period is also tough as there is a huge scarcity of refrigerators and electricity supply in the war-torn country. Once the flight operations are restored we will repatriate the survivors and dead bodies.”
He said the embassy had filed a court appeal for the dead not to be buried in Libya.
“There are some active human trafficking groups in Bangladesh,” Foreign Minister Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen said in a video message on Friday afternoon. “We arrested many of them last year and expected the human traffickers’ gang would stop their activities.”
But a joint international effort was required to stop trafficking, according to Shariful Hasan from the Bangladesh-based international development agency BRAC.
“No one can handle this problem alone,” he told Arab News.  “Since it’s a racket involving traffickers from many countries, the Bangladeshi government should initiate a joint effort with some other countries where the traffickers are operating.”
Several thousand Bangladeshi migrants live in Libya, according to embassy data. The country has long been a major staging post for migrants trying to reach Europe.
According to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, more than 2 million illegal migrants from different Asian and African countries have entered Europe through the Mediterranean Sea since 2014. Bangladesh is one of the top 10 countries where people risk their lives to cross the sea on small boats.
In the first four months of this year 693 Bangladeshis were arrested by border and coast guard authorities while trying to enter Europe illegally.


UN, Ethiopia sign deal for humanitarian access to Tigray

Updated 02 December 2020

UN, Ethiopia sign deal for humanitarian access to Tigray

UN, Ethiopia sign deal for humanitarian access to Tigray
  • For weeks, the UN and others have pleaded for aid access amid reports of food, medicines and other supplies running out

NAIROBI, Kenya: The United Nations says it and Ethiopia’s government have signed a deal to allow “unimpeded” humanitarian access to the embattled Tigray region, at least the parts under federal government control.
This will allow the first aid to the region of 6 million people that has been cut off during fighting that began a month ago between the federal and Tigray regional governments. Each regards the other as illegal in a power struggle that has been months in the making.
For weeks, the UN and others have pleaded for aid access amid reports of food, medicines and other supplies running out.
A UN humanitarian spokesman says the first mission to carry out a needs assessment begins Wednesday.