12:00 AM, August 26, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 26, 2011

Bangladeshis left in tension

2,000 contact embassy to leave Libya

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Porimol Palma

Bangladeshis in the Libyan capital Tripoli are facing difficulty in leaving the North African country as they have become apparently confined to their houses amid battles between rebels and Gaddafi diehards.
Around 2,000 Bangladeshis have contacted Bangladesh embassy in the city, seeking a way out of the war-torn country. But they find it hard even to come out their residences, said Jemini Pandya, spokesperson of International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Geneva.
A chartered ship docked at Tripoli port yesterday morning to take the foreigners to the port city of Benghazi.
The ship has a capacity of carrying up to 300 people but there is no Bangladeshi in the first batch of evacuees, she told The Daily Star over the phone.
"The problem is getting people out of their houses. They cannot travel from the city to the port. The situation is very dangerous," Jemini Pandya quoted IOM officials in Libya as saying.
Another ship chartered by IOM was scheduled to arrive in a few hours, she said at 7:30pm yesterday. "We are trying to get those people out of Tripoli, but logistically it is not feasible until now. There is serious insecurity."
Dr Abdul Mazid, a Bangladeshi who teaches in a Libyan university, told The Daily Star over the phone yesterday evening that he has been in a room for the last five days.
Food and water he earlier bought as per Bangladesh embassy's advice will run only for another week, he said.
"There are shootings all around. I can neither go out of my house nor can contact the embassy," he said, adding that he has been psychologically very upset. "I don't know what to do."
Bangladesh mission in Tripoli could not be contacted for disruption in mobile phone network.
The Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment in Dhaka, however, said they are in contacts with Bangladeshi officials in Tripoli and bracing themselves for any situation.
"Preparations are there to repatriate the Bangladeshis with support of the IOM, International Committee of the Red Cross and other international organisations," said the statement.
Meanwhile, IOM spokesperson Asif Munier in Dhaka said they will repatriate the Bangladeshis after they reach the border in Egypt or Tunisia.
Since the beginning of Libyan war late February this year, IOM with support from Bangladesh government repatriated over 36,000 Bangladeshis. An estimated 7,000 Bangladeshis are still in Libya.
IOM will keep on standby a ship off the Tripoli coast until security is improved and the safety of its staff and migrants is guaranteed.
"We urgently call on all parties to allow IOM to carry out its humanitarian work in safety and begin evacuating thousands of migrants who want to leave Tripoli," says IOM Director General William Lacy Swing in a press statement posted in its website.

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