104 Bangladeshi RMG workers stuck in Ethiopia

The Daily Star  November 14, 2020

Employer seeks Dhaka’s help for their relocation from conflict zone

A Bangladeshi garment company urged the government to help relocate its 104 expatriate workers stranded in Ethiopia’s conflict-torn northern Tigray region.

DBL Industries PLC’s factory premises have been bombed and the workers need assistance to leave the region, said M A Jabbar, managing director of DBL Group.

“Our employees are safe now. We requested the foreign ministry to relocate the workers from the conflict zone,” he told The Daily Star yesterday.

The situation in Tigray is still volatile and can escalate anytime with risks of further violence.

Contacted, Md Nazrul Islam, ambassador designated to Bangladeshi mission to Ethiopia, said the embassy is continuously monitoring the situation.

Aljazeera reported that an escalating conflict in Ethiopia’s restive Tigray region has killed hundreds of people.

The flare-up in the northern region bordering Eritrea and Sudan has raised fears of civil war in Africa’s second-most populous nation where ethnic conflict has killed hundreds since 2018.

The United Nations have warned that aid agencies are unable to restock food, health and other emergency supplies in the region which may trigger a refugee crisis.

The DBL authority is concerned as the food stock is depleting. “That is why we are requesting the Bangladesh government to take immediate steps to relocate them to safe places,” Jabbar added.

DBL Group, a leading apparel exporter, has set up a knitwear factory in Ethiopia, encouraged by duty benefits for exports from the African nation to the US markets. The factory began operation in 2018.

Bangladesh does not enjoy a duty benefit from the US as the American government suspended its generalised system of preferences in June 2013.

DBL, which produces items from yarn to garments, has 38,000 workers in different factories in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is the second largest apparel supplier worldwide after China.

“Our country director to Ethiopia got special permission to communicate with us from the regional TV stations that have internet connection,” Jabbar said.

Amnesty International in a statement said “scores and probably hundreds” of civilians have been massacred in Tigray in northern Ethiopia.

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