Destroy human traffickers’ network to save people from dying in the sea

Faruque Ahmed
Ignored and abandoned in their home country for a decent life and suitable job young men from Bangladesh are taking risky journey for Europe across the Mediterranean Sea and dying in the way. Families mourn the death of over 39 young men this week while daring to cross the Mediterraneanfor Italian coast on last Thursday night. But who is responsible, the state is mum.
The dead were among 80 people in a rubber boat which capsized 65 km off the Tunisian coast afterthey started journey from Libya’s Zuwara cost. Report said the traffickers initially loaded 130 people in a large boat and then shifted 80 to a smaller boat in the sea which sank within 10minutes, because of overcrowding.
Sixteen victims were rescued by fishermen on the spot after several hours including 24 Bangladeshi nationals. The other boat was able to reach Italian coast and voyagers survived. The voyagers on the boat ill-fated boat also included three Egyptians, several Moroccans, Chadians and some from other African nations.The death of young people in the sea has thus buried the dreams of a prosperous life for them and their families in Europe to the bottom of the sea.
The government talked of big development but young people are leaving the country for want of job to face death drowning in the sea.Even the government is failing to allow formal migration on work permit to desperate young people indirectly handing over them to the mindless exploitation of traffickers.
Families are selling property to pay huge sums of money to traffickers, it varies from Tk 8 lakhs to Tk 15 lakhs in some cases while the government is busy releasing statistics of going people abroad for jobs using such figure as big success stories.
Big stories of human trafficking hadearlier ignited severe debate in the country in 2015 when Bangladeshi young men were found illegally being trafficked from Cox’s Bazar coast for Thailand in the first leg bound for Malaysia.
Many thousands including ill-fated Rohingyas perished in such journey covering over hundred thousand by boat. Discoveryof mass graves in Thai jungles on Malaysian border and also inside Malaysia had raised serious outcry at that time at all levels.
Traffickers used detention camps in Thai jungle for realizing ransom from their captives. They used to torture them, keep them hungry without food and water for days together to force them to ask family members to pay extortion money to their local agents in Bangladesh for clearing their way to Malaysia.
Traffickers are using the same methods in Tripoli and other Libyan detention camps operated like prison to extract ransom to put them on boat for crossing the Mediterranean. Many of them are perishing in the sea while others reach the shore.
On Bangladesh-Thai trafficking route what was highly scandalous was that illegal syndicates engaged in human trafficking were sheltered and protected by a section of Thai politicians, bureaucrats, military and local people because it earned them huge fortune. In Bangladesh side they were also equally sheltered by a section of Bangladeshi establishments.
Meanwhile major human trafficking routes have just shifted now from the South Asian Sea to the Mediterranean making Turkey and Libya as the major route for trafficking. And there is no way of denying the fact that a section of Bangladeshi politicians, police and immigration officials are protecting the trade and promoting it for enormous money it fetch them.
Question arises why the government is not taking decisive action to destroy the syndicates despite the fact that their identities are clearly known to the administration. They deserve destroying in cross fire — the informal language of summary trial like busting of terrorists den. Families are mourning the demise of their loved ones but it could not have happened had the government acted properly.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen termed the incident as “very regrettable,” expressing displeasure over the risky voyage undertaken by the Bangladeshis. The journey, rife with dangers in the Mediterranean, has seen thousands of migrants going missing or dying on their way to Europe.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has dubbed the latest tragedy as the “deadliest migrant boat sinking” since January. It says as many as 443 migrants either died or went missing in the Mediterranean while trying to reach Europe in boats as of May 8 this year.The figures were 2,299 in 2018 and 3,139 in 2017.
Question arises where is the big development that the government claim using an astronomically high budget every year? Such development is noticeable mainly in the body language of the ruling party men as they lustily move in public luring young people to make similar luxury life. To them the easiest way is migration to Europe and human traffickers are taking advantage of the situation.
A minister’s regret or condolences from government leaders are not enough. Human traffickers are moving under the nose of the law enforcers in city hotels, airports and in the countryside. Their nexus is clear instead of taking steps to arrest them and burst their network.
Reports said over 300 young people left Beani Bazar Upazila in Sylhet district alone over the last six months paying huge money to human traffickers to go to Europe using Turkey- Libya route. Some success stories of reaching the European shores using Italian coast inspire the larger hard behind in the caravan.
The entire Sylhet region is flooded with illegal migration attempts. The same is noticeable in many other districts. Traffickers are using HazratAmanat Shah Airport in Chittagong for such trafficking. They take people to Turkey using Dubai as transit route. They then fly them to Libya often using Alexandria of Egypt as transit point.
Some report said at least 200 young men from Beani Bazar are now saying in different hotels of Chittagong port city for green signal for boarding in the plane. The real picture is bigger. Traffickers take them to the airport and when the arrangement clicks they put those men on board.
Agents also collect aspirant in some hotels in the capital from other parts of the country and forward them to Chittagong. An elaborate network is at work with travel agents at different places operating as overt place for booking.
In Sylhet city 23 such travel agents are known for their involvement and they have disappeared since the tragedy in the Mediterranean unfolded last week. Their travel office remained shut. People want actions against those enemies of human life. They must be destroyed to make life of common people safe.

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