Militiamen consolidate their hold on Tikrit. AP file photo
The Bangladesh embassy in Baghdad is ready to help repatriate Bangladeshis if they are willing to return home as the overall situation in troubled Iraq has remained unchanged, said the Bangladesh ambassador to Iraq on Friday.
“There has been no improvement yet. So far, as we know, Bangladeshis are safe, and the embassy will help if anybody wants to go back home,” Bangladesh envoy Maj Gen Rezanur Rahman Khan told the news agency by phone.
He requested all the Bangladeshis to contact only the embassy officials for any help to avert frauds as some dishonest people might take advantage of the crisis in the name of assistance that might put the Bangladeshi workers even in double trouble.
“We can send them back home only if they want to,” said Rezanur
Rahman, advising Bangladeshi workers even not to seek support from any compatriot when it comes to repatriation.
He said the embassy has opened 24-hour helpline (00946-7816601805,
00964-7814238351) for the Bangladeshis living in Iraq. “Even my cellphone number is open for 24 hours.”
Responding to a question, the envoy said the passports of workers are usually kept in owners’ custody in Iraq. “Even though, we can arrange sending them back home if anybody doesn’t have passport.”
Describing the situation, Rezanur said they are all in danger indeed. “You can understand the situation. We request Bangladeshis in Iraq not to go outside their homes unless there is any urgent need.”
He also urged the media people to convey the message to Bangladeshis who are in touch with the media.
Early this month, Sunni insurgents took control of Tikrit, Mosul and some other provinces in the Middle Eastern country.
The troubled Bangladeshis said almost all Iraqis left the area as the rebels are dominating Tikrit, some 160 km away from the capital Baghdad.
On Thursday night, the government here said it is closely monitoring the situation in Iraq and will take necessary measures for the wellbeing of Bangladesh nationals there.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in regular communication with the Bangladesh embassy in Baghdad as well as the neighbouring Bangladesh missions in Iran, Kuwait, Jordan and Turkey to ensure the safety and security of Bangladesh nationals in Iraq, said a foreign ministry release.
Earlier, the government suspended sending workers to Iraq till confirmation of safe and secure environment there.
It is estimated that over 14,000 Bangladesh nationals are working in Iraq, mostly in the construction sector, according to the foreign ministry here.
However, the unofficial number is about 30,000, while a few thousands more Bangladesh nationals had been waiting to go to Iraq for jobs.