BD human traffickers use Libya for transit to Europe
Published : Thursday, 4 June, 2020 at 12:00 AM Count : 143
Bangladeshi human traffickers used Libya as a hub for migration for decades. Libya has increasingly become a transit point for illegal migrants on their way to Europe, rather than it being their final destination.
The human smugglers collect huge amount of money by exploiting and torturing trafficked migrants. It was learnt that Bangladeshi migrant workers were sold three or four times by human traffickers to the migrant smugglers.
Network of Bangladeshi NGOs, said nearly 700 Bangladeshis were rescued while trying to enter Europe illegally between this January and April.
Libya is home to a large number of migrants, including some trying to use it as a stopover on way to Europe.
At least 26 Bangladeshi migrants were gunned down by human traffickers last week in the town of Mizdah in Libya.
The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested an alleged human trafficker and ringleader, Kamal Hossain alias Haji Kamal, 55, from the capital Dhaka.
RAB said Kamal had trafficked Bangladeshis to the Mideast and Libya for the last decade, including some 400 people to Libya alone.
Despite having played the role of an anti-immigration police for Italy under Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has hosted a longstanding and tacitly accepted industry in smuggling migrants. This has profited corrupt state officials and tribal groups living in border regions.
After the revolution in 2011 and killing of Muammar Gaddafi, Libyan militia groups have increasingly entered the migrant smuggling business. Militias' involvement has also provided a level of protection for the business, allowing it to proliferate.
From the moment they enter Libya migrants face kidnap, exploitation and torture by smugglers, traffickers, armed groups and detention centre staff. When they eventually reach the coast, they board often unseaworthy boats and risk capsizing.
A Bangladeshi migrant, reportedly said his family paid smugglers to take him to Europe. But they held him in Libya and tortured him. They sold him to another group of smugglers who demanded more money. 'When I couldn't pay, they nearly beat me to death,' he said.
Shahdat Akon, the brother of Asadul Akon, one of the slain migrants, told journalists that his brother went to Libya four or five months ago at the cost of Tk 4 lakh with the help of broker Amir Hossain (no relation to Kemal), who lived in Libya.
After reaching Libya, Asadul got stuck in Libya due to the coronavirus pandemic and waited there for months.
"Since May 22, my brother started sending recorded voice messages through imo [messaging] saying that he was being held hostage and the kidnappers demanded Tk 10 lakh, said Akon.
The messages "were horrible, my brother was screaming in pain due to electric shock and being beaten up," he added.
A high official of intelligence agency told the Daily Observer that "Manpower supply to Libya has been suspended for the last 10 years but illegal trafficking in going on mainly as the war-torn area of Benghazi has become a popular route for trafficking people into Europe, including Italy."
The Bangladeshi migrants, also the main target of the human traffickers, he said.