Church shelters migrant workers in Libya

The Church in crisis-torn Libya is offering shelter to stranded Bangladeshi migrant workers following an appeal by concerned bishops in their homeland.

“The government is struggling to repatriate thousands of migrant workers and we can’t help them directly. With the assistance of the Vatican embassy in Dhaka, we asked the Libyan Church via the Italian bishops’ conference to shelter Bangladeshis,” Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace chairman Bishop Gervas Rozario of Rajshahi, said yesterday.

“Since our appeal, several churches in Libya are currently sheltering many Bangladeshi migrants. Now there’s nothing else we can do from but help support the government which is under huge pressure,” the bishop said.

Reports say there are around 89,000 Bangladeshi migrant workers still in Libya where protesters are embroiled in a bloody conflict to oust long-term dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

About 5,500 workers have returned home so far and at least five were killed.

For the Bangladesh government it’s a gigantic task and the Labour Ministry has expressed regret it can only bring back around 25,000 with help from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

There are several hundred Christian migrant workers in Libya. A few of them have already got home safely.

“Returning home means landing in heaven from hell for me. I’ve left everything in Libya, but I’m happy to get home in one piece,” said Sentu Richard Gomes, 27, a Catholic from Deogaon near Dhaka, who returned home three days ago.

“In Libya around 100 rebels attacked us, stole everything we had and torched the building we were hiding in. We had no choice but to flee. I fled to Egypt, starved for days and then came back to Bangladesh with help from the IOM.”

Thousands of migrant workers from other Asian countries are still waiting to come home.

Photo: Daily Mail

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