migrants’ rights

March 16, 2011

Bangladeshi workers from Libya return home to an uncertain future

“Apney to okhon ashchen, amra bhor choy-ta theika boisha asi, okhono ailo na” (You’ve just come, but we have been waiting here since 6 am and he still hasn’t come) said Polash’s mother. It was almost 10.30 and I was waiting for half an hour outside the airport for my colleague to bring an entry pass. I didn’t know the lady sitting on the floor with two small children - Polash’s mother and his siblings – who came and waited there everyday from 6 am till the last flight arrived in the hopes of seeing her son. She last spoke to him about a week ago, when he said he was waiting for his turn to get a seat on the much coveted charter flights being arranged for the Bangladeshi workers living in UNHCR refugee camps at the Tunisian border. She said to me, “everyday, before leaving for the airport from my home in Dholai khal, I cook Palash’s favourite dishes because he is only getting a single meal each day at the camps”. There was little I could say to comfort her, except tell her to hold on to her faith and patience. I gave her the phone numbers of my colleagues who were working round the clock inside the airport.