Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chinese companies to evacuate Bangladeshis and Vietnamese to Greece

There is a a narrative out there purporting that the "Chinese" are taking all the jobs in North Africa.  If one actually takes the time to do the math, the numbers just don't add up.

Chinese co taking 804 Bangladeshis to Greece
300 take refuge in Tunisia
Staff Correspondent

A Chinese company yesterday started moving 804 Bangladeshi nationals from troubled Libya to Greece by a ship while 300 have already taken refuge in Tunisia.

“The 804 are scheduled to reach Greece by tomorrow [Sunday],” said Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes at a press briefing.

Meanwhile, several other companies are going to send 6,000 Bangladeshis home by plane and ship within a day or two, said Expatriates' Welfare Secretary Zafar Ahmed Khan at the ministry.

A Malaysian company in Libya has already chartered a plane at their own expense to send home 820 Bangladeshis it employed while South Korean companies Daewoo and Dong Ha will repatriate 1,500 and 1,200 more, he said.

The Bangladeshis who entered Tunisia yesterday are being provided with food and shelter by International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Red Cross, said Quayes.

He said South Korean company Sinhan is supposed to relocate 5,000 Bangladeshis to Tunisia.

“The prime concern for Bangladesh is now the safety of its nationals in Libya though a wholesale evacuation is not the answer at this stage,” said Quayes, adding that the government is trying to move the Bangladeshis either to safer places or to neighbouring Egypt or Tunisia.

Considering that there are estimated 60,000 Bangladeshis in Libya, their repatriation requires huge logistics and procedures, Mijarul Quayes said.

The government, however, will not hesitate to go for full evacuation if it is really necessary, he said. He would meet diplomats of other Asian countries that are evacuating their nationals and ask them if they could include Bangladesh nationals as well.

It has been around two weeks since violence erupted in Libya and Bangladeshis have been facing attacks and been victims of looting by Libyans. Many employers deserted workers at camps. The workers are running short on food and water. Many fear more attacks by Libyans.

China, South Korea, India and Thailand are bringing back their citizens by chartered planes and ships but Bangladesh is relying on the employers to move its citizens to safer places. It is also seeking support of international agencies for their shelter and food.

International agencies like the IOM and Red Cross are not able to go inside Libya.

Asked what would happen to those stranded way away from the Egyptian or Tunisian borders, Quayes said, "I have no easy answer for the danger zones."

Meanwhile, relatives of migrant Bangladeshis in Libya formed a human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club in the city and put up barricade on the Dhaka-Sylhet highway at Bhairab of Kishoreganj for two hours demanding the government bring back their loved ones.

Around 100 relatives of expatriates, who are from Bhairab, blockaded the highway around 9:30am, reports our Kishoreganj correspondent.

Local people also joined them.

According to the expatriates' welfare ministry, 15,000 Bangladeshis are in Tripoli and roughly similar numbers in Benghazi and Saba provinces. The rest are scattered in different parts of the North African country.

There is a trend of Bangladeshi nationals moving towards the borders of Tunisia and Egypt. Around 450 workers, who are near the Egyptian border, are safe, Quayes said.

Officials from the ministries of foreign and expatriates' welfare and from Bangladesh missions in Italy and Iran are rushing to Egypt, Tunisia and Greece to help Bangladeshi guest workers by issuing them travel documents free of cost.

Zafar Ahmed Khan said, "We asked officials in these countries to arrange shelter, rent houses if necessary, and food for the workers. We have given a sort of blank cheque to ensure our citizens' safety."

The official said they have no reports of Bangladeshi casualties. It is quite expected that in such volatile circumstances, there would be shortage of food, he said.

"There is a sense of insecurity rather than actual insecurity," Quayes said urging the media to rethink before making public unsubstantiated reports of casualties.

Vietnam recalls 10,000 from Libya
Airseco’s director, Nguyen Xuan Vui, said their partners would choose between sending the workers back to Vietnam by flights through Greece or by putting them on ships bound for China.

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