The UN Migration Agency, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), has facilitated the safe return of 148 Bangladeshi migrants from Libya.
A charter flight carrying the returnees, including conflict wounded, survivors of failed sea crossings to Europe, and former detainees, arrived at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in the capital on Wednesday morning.
The flight, bound to Dhaka, left Misrata Airport in Libya on Tuesday, where they were assisted upon arrival by the IOM staff.
Returned migrants received counselling and vulnerability screening, immediate direct assistance, assistance to obtain travel documents and other consular services, pre-departure health checks, coordination with countries of origin for specific assistance from the Shelters and Misrata Airport in Libya through IOM.
IOM staff in Dhaka provided food, health screenings, psychosocial support, information and assistance with hard cash for onward travel from the airport to home.
Akbor, hailing from Moheshpur under the Jhinaidha district, went to Libya 4 years ago through a middleman of his area. He got a job in a factory in Libya with a poor salary to survive. One day, an airstrike took place on his factory killing 13 people including four Bangladeshis.
Akbor said, "It was a horrible experience. I saw people dying. Fortunately, I was alive."
After this horrifying experience, Akbor decided to return home. He communicated with the IOM in Libya through the Bangladesh Embassy. And finally, he came back home on Wednesday.
"It's a big help for me. Because of the IOM support, I have returned home," he added.
Among the returnees, eight of them are physically ill. They received intensive health care support and were admitted to a hospital for treatment.
Supported by the European Union Trust Fund, returnees will also receive reintegration assistance to restore their lives.
Giorgi Gigauri, IOM Bangladesh Chief of Mission, said: "As hostilities continue in Libya, we spare no effort in protecting and assisting the most vulnerable Bangladeshi migrants who find themselves stranded in most precarious conditions. We also ensure that there is a support system available for them upon return home to address the immediate humanitarian and longer-term reintegration needs."
Since 2015, over 1,400 Bangladeshi migrants have returned home through the VHR programme. IOM's VHR programme, funded by EU and in cooperation with and support from Libyan and Bangladeshi authorities, provides vital assistance to thousands of migrants every year.
Building on experience and a worldwide network of offices and partners, VHR programme strives to ensure that vulnerable migrants receive requisite protection and assistance.