UN Migration Agency Helps Stranded Migrants Return to Bangladesh from Libya

Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration, Migrant Assistance

Bangladesh - On Wednesday (17 May), the United Nations Migration Agency (IOM) helped 43 Bangladeshi migrant workers to return home from Libya.

The returnees were detained by the Libyan authorities for not having valid travel documents, work permits or visas. The return assistance, under IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme, was funded by the European Union and facilitated by the Bangladeshi Embassy in Tripoli, the Libyan Directorate for Combatting Illegal Migration (DCIM), and IOM missions in Tripoli and Dhaka.

The 43 returnees bring the total number of Bangladeshis returned from Libya under IOM’s AVRR programme to 165 this year.

Thirty-nine of the group were working for construction and cleaning companies in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. When their employers pulled out of the country, their work permits and visas expired. Without the means to leave Libya, they were arrested as irregular migrants and detained. The remaining four migrants became undocumented when their passports expired. Following their arrest, they spent up to six months in detention.

Aged between 18 and 59, the AVRR beneficiaries come from the districts of Bagerhat, Barguna, Barisal, Bogra, Brahmanbaria, Chandpur, Comilla, Cox's Bazar, Dhaka, Faridpur, Feni, Gazipur, Gopalganj, Habiganj, Jessore, Khulna, Kishoreganj, Kushtia, Madaripur, Manikganj, Meherpur, Moulvibazar, Munshiganj, Mymensingh, Naogaon, Narail, Narayanganj, Narsigdi, Netrokona, Noakhali, Pabna, Patuakhali, Rajbari, Rangpur, Shariatpur, Sirajganj, Sylhet and Tangail.

Ruhul Amin Khan, 45, from Madaripur district, returned to Bangladesh from Libya in March with 27 other Bangladeshi migrants. He later described his experiences at an IOM counselling session.

“I came back (to Bangladesh) after nine months, penniless, jobless and up to my eyeballs in debt. I’m now afraid for my life. My broker is after me for the money that his associates tried to extort from me in Libya,” he said.

“IOM’s assisted voluntary return and reintegration programmes allow migrants to return home with dignity after often long spells in detention and to start rebuilding their lives. We place a lot of emphasis on their economic reintegration when they return to minimize the likelihood that they will try to migrate again, perhaps under even more dangerous circumstances, in order to pay off their often considerable debts,” said IOM Bangladesh Chief of Mission and Special Envoy to India and Bhutan, Sarat Dash.

Under the AVRR programme, IOM Bangladesh receives returnees at the airport, organizes their onward travel to their final destination, and agrees and monitors a reintegration plan with returnees identified as vulnerable. In 2017, 84 of the 165 returnees from Libya have received IOM reintegration assistance.

For more information, please contact Shirin Akhter at IOM Bangladesh, Tel. + 880 1711 187 499, Email: sakhter@iom.int, Tel. + 880 1711 187 499. Or Othman Belbeisi at IOM Libya, Tel. +216 29 600 389, Email: obelbeisi@iom.int

  • Bangladeshi migrants arriving in Dhaka from Libya on March 8th 2017. Photo: IOM / Nasimul Ibrahim