Mohammad Rakibul, 22, had it all planned out.
He wanted to go to Italy for work in the same way many had gone before. He paid his brokers, who assured him of a successful journey, a hefty Tk15 lakh. All the young man needed to do was go to the UAE on a visit visa, make his way into Libya, sail through the Mediterranean, and he would be in his dream country.
The catch was, not all of it was legal and Rakibul ended up being in a Libyan detention centre for six months.
The 22-year-old, hailing from Madaripur, was recently freed and brought back to Bangladesh along with some 114 Bangladeshis stuck in the North African country in a joint effort of the Embassy of Bangladesh in Libya and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
The dispirited Bangladeshis arrived at the Shahjalal International Airport at 8:10 am on 3 March on a Buraq Air flight (UZ220), chartered by the IOM.
Most of the Bangladeshis were detained by law enforcement agencies in Libya while on their way to European countries on boat, said an IOM official on condition of anonymity.
None of them had valid passports or visas and were trying to migrate to other countries illegally, he added.
Also, many of them were victims of human trafficking, according to sources.
"Rakibul's family paid around Tk15 lakh to the brokers to send him to Italy. We are going to take legal action against them," Md Awal, a relative of the Libya returnee, said.
For many Bangladeshis looking for a low-cost entry to Europe, going through Libya using risky channels has become a popular route, although many are victims of fraud and human trafficking.
Annual statistics published by the European Union's border agency Frontex show that at least 8,667 Bangladeshi citizens entered the block last year irregularly, reports Infomigranst. Of them, 7,574 came via the central Mediterranean route, 604 via the eastern Mediterranean, and 437 via the western Balkans.
Bangladesh is second on Frontex's list of countries whose citizens take the dangerous central Mediterranean route connecting Libya and Italy.
Last January this year, seven Bangladeshis died of hypothermia while trying to reach Lampedusa from Libya. Such casualties are common on this route.
Frontex statistics also suggest that most Bangladeshi migrants who entered the EU irregularly last year ended up in Italy. It has become the favoured destination for many Bangladeshis over the past few decades.