Bangladeshi Migrants, Including Mizdah Attack Survivors, Return Home
Dhaka – This week (30/09), 164 migrants arrived home on a Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) flight from Libya. Aboard the charter, which landed at Dhaka’s Hazarat Shajalal International Airport (HSIA), were nine survivors of the tragic shooting in the Libyan town of Mizdah, where on 27 May, 30 migrants—including 26 Bangladeshis—were shot and killed in a smuggling warehouse.
With those survivors were other vulnerable migrants, including 39 people with medical conditions. IOM medical escorts travelled with the migrants to Bangladesh whereupon arrival health teams were on hand to coordinate care for requiring quarantine at government facilities. IOM teams also will provide referral support to specialized services and follow up with assistance to migrants with chronic conditions.
Eligible migrants will receive reintegration support once they have completed their government-mandated quarantine period. Follow-up care is particularly important for people who experienced physical and psychological trauma while stranded in Libya.
The deadly attack in Mizdah, southwest of Tripoli also left 11 other migrants critically injured. IOM and its partners have supported those survivors in the months following the violence.
“I can’t forget the incident, it was like living a nightmare,” said Syed Khan. “I was shot, and it took me four months to recover enough to make the journey home. Many of us haven’t fully recovered and we are still traumatized. I am grateful to IOM and the Government of Bangladesh for the medical and other support they provided in Libya and for arranging my flight home.”
COVID-19 has exacerbated the vulnerabilities of migrant workers across the world, said Giorgi Gigauri, IOM Bangladesh’s Chief of Mission.
“We are working to overcome movement and other restrictions to access vulnerable migrants who are stranded and in need of support,” IOM’s Gigauri said. “We are working closely with the Government—in particular the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment—to ensure their access to health services, shelter, food, consular services. And, for the most vulnerable, flights home.”
Most migrants will return to Bangladesh through HSIA, the country’s busiest airport. There IOM, in coordination with the Government’s Communicable Disease Control (CDC) Division, has been working since March to build the capacity of point of entry (POE) staff to identify, screen, and refer travelers with COVID-19 symptoms.
In Bangladesh, IOM supports the Government at 20 of the 28 POEs in the country. COVID-19-responsive systems and procedures at POEs enable the safe re-entry of migrants while ensuring protection for frontline POE staff and communities across the country.
Aside from on-arrival assistance to migrants, IOM also provides tele-counselling, health referrals and follow-ups, skills diversification and financial literacy training, and reintegration support for the most vulnerable returning migrants.
To improve migrant protection, voluntary return and reintegration along the Central Mediterranean route in Africa, the European Union (EU), through the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), launched the Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in Africa with IOM in 2016.
The flight was made possible with the support from the EUTF.