The horrific killing of 26 Bangladeshi migrants in Libya last week has once again brought to light the fact that young, hardworking Bangladeshis are frequently falling victim to the various national and overseas human trafficking gangs, as they leave their home seeking greener pastures in different European countries. According to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), more than 50 Bangladeshi nationals had been involved in trafficking the 26 Bangladeshis who were killed by their kidnappers in the North African country. The CID investigation has also found names of some Bangladeshis involved with human trafficking gangs in Libya, who are now staying in that country.
Libya has been a destination for Bangladeshi migrants since long because of its rich economy and also because of its important geographic location—it has been used as a transit station for people attempting to reach Europe across the Mediterranean. However, different human trafficking gangs became active there over the last decade, taking advantage of Libya's civil war. And Bangladeshi migrant workers seem to be the biggest target of these groups.
While our mission in Libya needs to strengthen its efforts to ensure the safety of our workers there, we also need to gear up efforts, here at home, to apprehend members of the various human trafficking gangs that are operating across the country. There are hundreds of fraudulent recruiting agencies which must be identified; and all recruitment agencies need to be brought under a legal framework to root out fraudulent practices. The 26 Bangladeshis who were killed in Libya and those injured in the incident had to provide Tk 3-4 lakh each to the traffickers to go to the country. But in return, they were held hostage on a foreign land, tortured, and eventually killed or maimed.
It is laudable that the law enforcers have already arrested eight people, including the chairman and managing director of a recruitment agency, in connection with this incident. We hope they will soon arrest the entire trafficking gang responsible for this tragedy. We also hope that our law enforcers will always remain vigilant to stop the activities of these gangs.
We would also like to see a strong stance by our foreign ministry in this connection. It should communicate with the Libyan government to ensure exemplary punishment of the killers and their enablers and demand compensation for the victims' families. Bangladesh should also seek help from international organisations including the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for providing assistance to the Bangladeshis stuck in the war-torn country.