Bangla to evacuate its nationals from troubled Libyan region

Foreign Secy Mijarul Quayes ruled out that Bangladeshis were taken hostage.

Updated: Feb 22, 2011, 22:48 PM IST

Dhaka: Bangladesh will evacuate its
nationals from the troubled Benghazi city of Libya, which is
witnessing a massive pro-democracy upsurge over the past week.

"We have planned to evacuate our nationals from
Benghazi, currently the most troubled city of Libya... in fact
the process has started already," Foreign Minister Dipu Moni
told a group of newsmen at her office here today.

She said Dhaka was closely observing developments in
Libya and keeping constant contact with its mission in, while
talks were underway with the concerned international
organisations for emergency activities like evacuation.

Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister
Mosharraf Hossain at a briefing later said the government took
"all necessary measures to ensure security of Bangladeshi
workers" in Libya and other Middle Eastern nations.

"There is nothing to panic. If needed, UN assistance
would be sought," he told the press briefing at his office at
Bangladesh Secretariat, but added that no such situation had
arisen yet to seek the UN interventions.

He said the government is trying to contact the Libyan
authorities through the official channel following the
publication of a report in newspapers that 100 Bangladeshis
have been kept hostage in a community centre in Benghazi.

Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes ruled out reports
that Bangladeshis were taken hostage, saying according to the
"last information we received, all Bangladeshis in Libya are
in a safe state, none were injured or kept hostage".

Hossain said the Bangladesh mission opened a control
room to take measures for security of 60,000 expatriate
Bangladeshis and monitor their conditions, while his office
was also in contact with the overseas recruiting agencies.

"They (recruiting agencies) have been asked to shift
the Bangladeshi workers to safer places," he said.

In the evening press briefing at the foreign office,
Quyes said "all options are open and if needed we will bring
them (Bangladeshi workers) back home".

The foreign secretary reconfirmed an earlier report
that Libyan ambassador to Bangladesh AH Elimam deserted the
authorities in Tripoli siding with pro-democracy protestors.

Officials had earlier said the envoy informed the
foreign office in Dhaka about his decision yesterday.

He, however, said Elimam did not cite any reason for
his resignation and added that the second man in the embassy
would discharge his duties.

Media reports earlier suggested Elimam decided to give
up his loyalty to the Gaddafi regime as several of his
relatives were killed in government actions against protestors
in recent days.

Officials earlier said the number of Bangladeshi
nationals in Libya was more than 50,000 while they were
residing in different cities and industrial regions across the
vast African country.

PTI