‘Many want to return home’
The Bangladesh Embassy in Baghdad is ready to help repatriate Bangladeshis if they are willing to return home as the overall situation in troubled Iraq has remained unchanged, said the Bangladesh Ambassador to Iraq on Friday.
“There has been no improvement yet. So far, as we know, Bangladeshis are safe, and the Embassy will help if anybody wants to go back home,” Bangladesh envoy Maj Gen Rezanur Rahman Khan told UNB over phone.
He requested all the Bangladeshis to contact only the Embassy officials for any help to avert frauds as some dishonest people might take advantage of the crisis in the name of assistance that might put the Bangladeshi workers even in double trouble.
“We can send them back home only if they want to,” said Rezanur Rahman advising Bangladeshi workers even not to seek support from any Bangladeshi fellow when it comes to repatriation.
He said the Embassy has opened 24-hour helpline (00946-7816601805, 00964-7814238351) for the Bangladeshis living in Iraq. “Even my cellphone number is open for 24 hours.”
Responding to a question, the envoy said the passports of workers are usually kept in owners’ custody in Iraq. “Even though, we can arrange sending them back home if anybody doesn’t have passport.”
Describing the situation, Rezanur Rahman said they are all in danger indeed. “You can understand the situation. We request Bangladeshis in Iraq not to go outside their homes unless there is any emergency need.”
He also urged the media people to convey the message to Bangladeshis who are in touch with the media.
UNB talked to a number of Bangladeshis living in Tikrit, a city in Iraq, located 140 km northwest of Baghdad on the Tigris River who are suffering due to the shortage of food, water and electricity.
“We’re in inhuman conditions. We want to go back home. Our owners fled to Dubai with all our passports following the deteriorating situation here,” Sheikh Sahaur Rahman Belal told UNB over phone.
Belal, hailing from Habiganj, said there are 27 Bangladeshis in a group and they are living in an under-construction building while six others live close to them. “Save us. If we’re not taken back home, we’ll have to die here.”
Kawser Ul Haque, another Bangladeshi hailed from Faridpur, said they have almost run out of their food stocks. “We’ve started taking one meal a day instead of three. We can’t go out. Everything is closed.”
Sheikh Sabina Rahman, wife of Belal, said they are trying to reach government officials through locals for bringing back her husband safely. “We’re very anxious. Please help us.”
Bangladeshis from Bogra, Madaripur, Shariyatpur, Comilla, Jamalpur and Brahmanbaria are also there in the group who want to come back home.
Early this month, Sunni insurgents took control of Tikrit, Mosul and some other provinces in the Middle Eastern country.
The troubled Bangladeshis said almost all Iraqis left the area as the rebels are dominating Tikrit, some 160 km away from the capital Baghdad.
UNB Habiganj correspondent said family members of 10 Bangladeshi workers in Tikrit city are in great anxiety and they sought government support for their repatriation.
Quoting construction worker Al Amin who is in Iraq, the correspondent said sporadic gunfights and bombings are on in Tikrit, and their lives are in danger. He sought government’s support for their repatriation.
Habiganj Deputy Commissioner Joinal Abedin said he was not informed about the issue, neeither from the ministry concerned nor from workers’ families.
Talking to UNB, Belal’s father, Mukhlesur Rahman, also sought government assistance in rescuing his son.
On Thursday night, the government here said it is closely monitoring the situation in Iraq and will take necessary measures for the wellbeing of Bangladesh nationals there.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in regular communication with the Bangladesh Embassy in Baghdad as well as the neighbouring Bangladesh missions in Iran, Kuwait, Jordan and Turkey to ensure the safety and security of Bangladesh nationals in Iraq, said a foreign ministry release.
Earlier, the government suspended sending workers to Iraq till confirmation of safe and secure environment there.
It is estimated that over 14,000 Bangladesh nationals are working in Iraq, mostly in the construction sector, according to the Foreign Ministry here.
However, the unofficial number is about 30,000, while a few thousands more Bangladesh nationals had been waiting to go to Iraq for jobs.
Source: UNB Connect