Faced with poverty and lack of opportunities, young Bangladeshis often dream of a better life in Europe that will allow them to provide for their families. Dalaals or ‘travel agents’ encourage and capitalise upon these hopes. Among those that take the risky journey to Italy known as 'the game' are hundreds of unaccompanied minors. The reality that greets them is often one of misery, exploitation, and slavery.
The European media's coverage of migration has focused largely on sub-Saharan Africans taking the perilous journey by boat across the Mediterranean to Italy. However, the plight of Bangladeshis, the second-largest group arriving in the country's shores after Tunisians, has largely gone unreported.
These young people often leave Bangladesh on tourist visas, traveling by air from Dhaka via Dubai or to other airports in Turkey and Egypt. Many, like Africans, end up in Libya at the hands of trafficking gangs and militias who hold them in slave-like conditions, before they embark on treacherous dinghy journeys across the Mediterranean to Italy.
Seen as unworthy of asylum, those that make it are often sent back to Libya or are trapped in underground networks of exploitation in Italy. The authorities are also failing these migrants, especially the many minors among them. Bangladeshis entering the country by boat often get sent back to Libya, and minors go unprotected, leaving the criminal gangs free reign to exploit them.
Photo image: Kate Stanworth
- Unaccompanied minors from Bangladesh smuggled to Italy - Prothom Alo, 28/11/2021
- How Bangladeshis are lured into slavery in Libya. - BBC News, 8/12/2021
- লিবিয়ায় গিয়ে যেভাবে ‘দাস’ হয়ে উঠছেন বাংলাদেশিরা (The way Bangladeshis are becoming 'slaves' in Libya) - Photom Alo, 9/12/2021
- العبودية في ليبيا؟ العبودية: كيف يُستدرج البنغال إلى شرك (How Bangladeshis are being lured into the trap of slavery in Lybia) - BBC Arabic News, 9/12/2021
- بنگلہ دیشی نوجوان جنھیں ملازمت کا جھانسہ دے کر لیبیا سمگل کیا جاتا ہے (Bangladeshi youth trafficked to Lybia for employment) - BBC Urdu News, 9/12/2021
- Bangladesh asked to prosecute smugglers of unaccompanied minors to Europe - Photom Alo, 10/12/2021
- Focus on Africa - BBC World Service, 2/12/21