Bangladesh has expressed shock following reports of 26 Bangladeshi migrants being shot dead in Libya, with rights activists blaming a failure to curb human trafficking for the tragedy. Family members of a Libyan human trafficker shot dead 30 migrants — 26 Bangladeshis and four Africans — in a revenge attack for his death in the Libyan town of Mizda, Reuters reported on May 28. Another 11 critically injured survivors were taken to a hospital, said the report citing information from Libya’s internationally recognized Government of National Accord. An official from the Bangladeshi embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli confirmed the deaths, adding that embassy staff were trying to assist the survivors, Bangladeshi daily the Daily Star
reported. News of the tragedy was met with shock in Bangladesh, with many questioning the country’s failure to combat trafficking and protect migrants.
Rights activists blamed “systematic loopholes” behind unabated illegal migration and trafficking for allowing the massacre to happen. “This didn’t happen in one day. Due to political unrest, Bangladesh stopped sending people to Libya, but the trafficking has continued,” Shariful Hasan, head of migration at BRAC, a Bangladeshi NGO, told UCA News. Traffickers lure and entrap people with the promise of sending them to Europe via Libya, which can be highly dangerous, he said. “This latest incident has tarnished the image of Bangladesh further. To curb trafficking, this country needs to forge strong ties within the international community,” he added. Catholic charity Caritas, which has been working for years on migrant safety, condemned the killings. Jyoti F. Gomes, regional director of Caritas Dhaka, said illegal migration and trafficking cannot be stopped without addressing the root causes. “Often people dream of moving to Europe to break free from poverty and seek a better life, but they don’t know death often awaits them. Bangladesh should tackle the root causes of trafficking and make legal migration easier so that people don’t look for short-cuts and fall into the traps of traffickers,” Gomes told UCA News. Some 8-10 million Bangladeshis are working overseas both legally and illegally, with most in Middle Eastern countries, according to government figures. Bangladesh receives about US$15 billion in remittances from expatriate workers annually, which is vital for the economy of the South Asian country.
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