A special flight has repatriated 148 Bangladeshis from Libya and also brought home the bodies of seven expatriates who died at different times in that country.
Most of the returnees had travelled to Libya via Dubai on travel visas to make their way to Europe, according to the Brac Migration Programme.
Masud Molla, 43, of Narsingdi, is one of the returnees who went to Libya one-and-a-half years ago using the route.
"I went to Libya with the help of Swapan, a middleman from Madaripur, and paid him Tk3.5 lakh. He told me that I would get a job there and could even go to Europe if I wished," Masud told The Business Standard by phone on Wednesday evening.
"But I faced an abnormal situation in Libya. I did not get a permanent job. Sometimes, I got jobs but was not paid at all. I could send only Tk1.30 lakh for my five-member family," he said.
Masud said he had observed that many Bangladeshis had tried to go to Europe from Libya but he could not pluck up the courage in this regard.
So, he decided to return home and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) created the opportunity.
Shariful Hasan, head of the Brac Migration Programme, said, "The flight arrived in Dhaka at 9:30am on Wednesday and a Brac team, along with the Expatriates' Welfare Desk and the Armed Police Battalion, provided the Libya returnees with emergency assistance, including food."
"In addition, IOM provided every returnee with financial assistance. We have learned that these Bangladeshis went to Libya to go to Europe," he continued.
According to airport officials, the flight left Benina International Airport at 6pm on Tuesday.
At least 26 Bangladeshis – who were being trafficked to Europe via Libya – were shot dead while 11 others were wounded in May, last year, allegedly by associates of a trafficker, in revenge for the trafficker's death in a Libyan town. This left Bangladeshi expatriates in Libya in a state of panic.
Around 39 Bangladeshis died in the Mediterranean when they tried to make their way to Europe in May 2019.
Libya, which has long been a destination for migrants because of its oil-funded economy, is also an important way station for people attempting to reach Europe across the Mediterranean.
Every year a large number of Bangladeshis try to go to Europe through Libya.
According to the Brac Migration Programme, around 693 Bangladeshis were detained between January and April last year while trying to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, around 2.05 million people crossed the Mediterranean Sea from 2014 to April last year. Of them, more than 19,000 people, including many Bangladeshis, died in their attempts to reach Europe.
Bangladesh is among the top 10 countries whose citizens try to go to Europe using the Mediterranean Sea route.