By Rahman Jahangir.
Dhaka, March 27: Bangladeshi workers who left Libya during the revolution have slowly begun returning. The latest official statistics . . .[restrict]from by the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) in Dakha say that some 1,200 Bangladeshi workers have already returned to jobs in Libya.
Nearly 37,000 Bangladeshis, mostly construction workers, who returned home last year are now preparing to return after Tripoli opened its doors to foreign workers in order to facilitate rebuilding the country.
The rate of return, however, is very slow as the Libyan authorities have made it clear that no person will be allowed to enter the country illegally in search of work.
Bangladeshis have been told that entering the country requires proper work documentation by employers who must be cleared by the Bangladesh embassy in Tripoli and then the worker must be given a valid visa by the Libyan embassy in Bangladesh.
Full recruitment, according to officials, will take some time as Bangladeshis were originally recruited by foreign companies which left Libya because of the fighting.
“Every day we receive clearance applications from recruiting agencies for Libyan group visas, and the number is increasing,” said an official of the BMET, adding that some 2,000 applications are now being processed.
Before the revolution broke out, tens of thousands Bangladeshi contract workers were in Libya, working mostly for large Korean companies on oil and infrastructure projects.
According to sources, about 70,000 Bangladeshis were working in Libya when the uprising against Qaddafi broke out. Most of them returned home as the violence worsened.
It is claimed by some that arrived home penniless after being were robbed in refugee camps or on their way to the Egyptian or Tunisian borders. Others say they did not receive wages for months.
Bangladeshi workers who stayed on in Libya, were told by the Libyan authorities to regularise their passports, visas and work permits by March 4.
The Bangladesh ambassador in Tripoli recently met with Libyan Labour Minister Mustafa Rujbani to discuss the issue of the Bangladeshi who stayed on. He also requested the minister to help expedite the process of return for the Bangladesh workers who left the country during the fighting.
Bangladesh sees itself able to provide Libya with a large semi-skilled and unskilled workforce to help rebuild the country. “Bangladesh has earned a reputation for its workers being hard-working, loyal, dedicated and honest,” said an official of BMET. The new recruitment, however, they said might take some time.
On October 13 last year, Bangladesh officially recognised the National Transitional Council as the legitimate authority in Libya. Dhaka immediately opened discussions with the transitional authorities on a deal, and it says that many firms that employed Bangladeshi workers before the unrest have already reestablished contact. [/restrict]