Thousands of Bangladeshi workers trapped in Libya

Thousands of Bangladeshi workers trapped in Libya

An estimated 50,000 Bangladeshis are working in Libya and most of them are low paid construction workers.

Dhaka has sought assistance from the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Organisation on Migration (IOM).

Speaking to The Daily Star by phone Wednesday night, several Bangladeshi construction workers complained that the Bangladesh Embassy in Tripoli was not extending any assistance to them.

They have appealed to the government for a safe return home from Libya, which is witnessing an uprising against the country's long-time strongman Muammar Gaddafi who has ruled the country for 41 years.

About 70 Bangladeshis - all workers for Libyan Saraya, a construction firm in Tripoli - are living in a warehouse.

Twelve Bangladeshi workers are taking turns to guard the warehouse, which is only about 10 km from Tripoli international airport.

The workers, who spoke to The Daily Star from their makeshift living room, said they are passing days in panic, as "armed people" are on the prowl on the streets outside.

"We are not getting enough food. Our company is providing us some bread and cooked dal (lentils)," said Shahedul Islam, a 30-year-old construction worker.

Some workers are facing a double setback as their contracts have ended and the visas have expired.

"There are some people whose contracts expired three months ago. But the company is not taking any initiative," the newspaper quoted a worker Mohammed Russell as saying.