Bangladeshis among 1,200 migrants reach Italy on boats
Md Owasim Uddin Bhuyan || BusinessInsider
Representational image. Photo: Collected
There was an unspecified number of Bangladeshi migrants among more than 1,200 migrants in several decrepit, overcrowded fishing boats on Sunday reached a tiny Italian island in 12 hours, as human traffickers exploited calm seas and warm weather to launch multiple vessels, global media reports.
The migrants arrived on wooden or metal boats and many of the migrants were reported to be from Bangladesh and Tunisia, according to Il Giornale di Sicilia, a newspaper in Sicily.
Most of those reaching Lampedusa were men, but there were some women and children, including a newborn, it said.
When contacted, Bangladesh embassy officials in Italy said that they have heard the news through different media but yet to receive any official message about the incidents.
“We don’t know how many Bangladeshis are there,” Bangladesh labour attaché Arfanul Haque told Business Insider Bangladesh from Rome.
Currently, some 1.45 lakh Bangladeshi migrants are legally working in Italy and many other Bangladeshis have applied for legalisation of their entries under the Italian government’s plan.
Italian media reported on Monday that the first of the migrants arrived at 5 am, Lampedusa (Italian City) Mayor Salvatore Martello told Sky TG24 TV at 5 pm. It was the biggest number of migrants to come ashore in a single day at an Italian port this year.
“I’ve said all you need is a day of good weather to see (all) these boats,” Martello said. He appealed to Premier Mario Draghi to put migration on the agenda even as the government is heavily focused on guiding Italy’s economic and social recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
By late afternoon, at least nine boats full of migrants disembarked on the island, which has an initial processing center for migrants coming ashore and requesting asylum.
Italian news reports said Italian coast guard and customs police boats escorted the vessels to Lampedusa after they were spotted in the Mediterranean a few miles offshore. The island, which lives off tourism and fishing, is closer to northern Africa than to the Italian mainland.
Late spring, when weather is generally good, has seen Libya-based migrant traffickers launch many unseaworthy vessels toward European shores. In recent years there have been surges in the number of migrant arrivals, either being rescued at sea, escorted by military vessels, or sailing unassisted directly to Italian shores when seas are calm. In recent years, a few thousand migrants rescued at sea arrived in one day.
Meanwhile, some anti-trafficking campaigners in Bangladesh said that organized rackets of traffickers allured many young Bangladeshis to go to Libya with a promise of sending them to Italy crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
Many migrants from Bangladesh have lost their lives in the seas as the victims of human trafficking, they said.