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Asia

Tens of thousands of Bangladeshis trapped in Libya

While nations around the world are trying to evacuate their citizens from Libya, thousands of Bangladeshi migrant workers are trapped in the troubled country. Several are said to have even been killed during an attack.

a scene from recent days' unrest in Benghazi with a Libyan flag

It is feared that the unrests in Libya could turn into a civil war

37 Bangladeshis were killed in an attack in the area of Misurata, two Bangladeshi citizens Saiful Islam and Abdul Majid, told Deutsche Welle over the telephone. It was unclear who the attackers were. Misurata, 200 kilometers from the capital Tripoli, is a major industrial city. The Bangladeshi government has not confirmed the report.

Unknown attackers

Islam said that the attackers came at night to the factory in which around 800 Bangladeshi workers are taking cover and assaulted them. Islam, who is still taking cover in the factory, said in addition to the 37 killed, several were injured and have not received medical attention. Furthermore, they seem to be lacking food, as people cannot go out on the street. "We are in a big trouble. How long are we going to stay here?" said Islam.

The Bangladeshis were hiding from the street violence

The Bangladeshis were hiding from the street violence

On the phone the two men also told Deutsche Welle that they have failed to reach the Bangladeshi embassy in Libya, which has not come forward with necessary help. "The embassy has not contacted us yet. Nobody comes to this area," said Islam. He said the telephone network was frequently breaking down.

At least 50,000 Bangladeshis are currently working in Libya, mostly low-paid contract workers in the construction industry.

Lack of food and medicine

Another incident was also reported in a construction company in the town of Mamura. Local Bangladeshi workers Mohammad Ibrahim Kalili and Imran Hossain reported to Deutsche Welle that around 4,000 Bangladeshis are taking refuge in the company building and at least 100 of them have been injured. The two sources also added that the people there were demanding help from the Bangladeshi government.

Millions of foreign workers are waiting to be evacuated from Libya

Millions of foreign workers are waiting to be evacuated from Libya

Kalili, who comes from the city of Comilla in south-eastern Bangladesh, has lived in Libya and worked in the construction company for the last two years. He said that the last two days have been miserable, not having enough food and medicine. Hossain also confirmed the news and called on the authorities for help.

No evacuation plan from the government

In Dhaka, foreign ministry spokesman Syed Masud Khandker told the AFP news agency that Bangladesh did not have evacuations plans, but was trying to move its citizens to safe places. He added, "so far we have news that Bangladeshi workers are safe and we are still trying to find a way to move them to safer places, so that if conditions deteriorate further, they will not be in danger."

Help for other Asian workers

Meanwhile, a passenger ship with the capacity to carry around 1,000 people is expected to arrive on Sunday on the Libyan coast to begin pulling back some of India’s 18,000 civilians living in Libya. The Indian foreign ministry said the ship, which is carrying government personnel and a medical team, is already in Egypt and would soon leave for Libya's eastern city of Benghazi, where around 3,000 Indians work.

An Egyptian, who has just crossed Salloum land port gate with Libya, at background, takes a knap over his luggage Wednesday, Feb.23, 2011. Turkey evacuated 3,000 citizens on two ships Wednesday from the chaos of Libya's uprising but thousands of other foreigners were still stranded at Tripoli airport, struggling to get a flight home.Several countries _ Russia, Germany and Ukraine among them _ sent more planes to help their citizens escape the turmoil engulfing the North African nation and the United States said Americans would be evacuated by ferry later Wednesday to the Mediterranean island of Malta.(Foto:Tarek Fawzy/AP/dapd)

Many people are trying to leave Libya either individually or counting on their countries' effort

Other Asian countries such as China and South Korea have chartered planes and ships to get their citizens out of Libya as soon as possible. There are about 30,000 Chinese citizens living in Libya, some 15,000 of whom are to be evacuated through Greece. Thousands of Chinese have landed at the port of Heraklion on the Greek Island of Crete after their evacuation. A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Libya, Du Minghao, said dozens of Chinese citizens have been injured since the unrest broke out more than a week ago.

Thousands of Filipino workers are also still stranded in riot-torn Libya, as the Philippine government’s evacuation plans have yet to be fully carried out. Many workers who did not hear anything from the government decided to find ways of crossing the borders to neighboring countries individually, said Migrante International in Manila, the alliance of Filipino migrant organizations. It said all contact has been lost with many Filipino migrants in Libya.

Author: Anggatira Gollmer (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Thomas Baerthlein

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