'Three Noakhali brothers running human trafficking ring'

Published: May 15, 2019 17:50:58 | Updated: May 16, 2019 09:44:14

The government has uncovered a human trafficking ring responsible for sending overseas the Bangladeshis who were involved in the migrant boat capsize in the Mediterranean Sea off Tunisia.

“We have found out that the ring is led by three brothers in Noakhali. Two other operatives are based in Madaripur. We are looking into the matter,” said Foreign Minister AKA Momen.

The survivors provided information about five members of the racket, including its leaders, to Bangladeshi official in Tunisia, the minister told a media briefing at his office on Wednesday, reports bdnews24.com.

The foreign minister, however, did not reveal the identities of the traffickers at the briefing. But Momen presented a list of the 39 Bangladeshis who are still missing after the tragedy.

Around 150 migrants had set sail for Italy illicitly from the conflict-ridden Libya on two boats on May 9. Apart from Bangladeshis, the boats were also carrying several Egyptian nationals.

While one of the boats with 50 passengers on board managed to sail ashore, passengers on the second boat had to be transferred to another smaller vessel. The overcrowded boat subsequently sank off the coast of Tunisia in the early hours of May 10.

Since Bangladesh does not have a consulate in Tunisia, an official from the Bangladesh embassy in neighbouring Libya was sent to the north African country.

Over 40 Bangladeshis are still unaccounted  for in a migrant boat capsize in the Mediterranean Sea off Tunisia and chances of finding them are “almost zero”, a Bangladeshi official there says.

ASM Ashraful Islam, labour counsellor at the Bangladesh embassy in Libya, told bdnews24.com that over 40 Bangladeshis are still unaccounted  for after the disaster and chances of finding them are “almost zero”.

As many as 14 Bangladeshi nationals were rescued alive from the capsized boat, he said.

The rescuers also found the body of Uttam Kumar from Naria in Shariatpur, according to the official.

Foreign Minister Momen said that the government has identified 39 other Bangladeshis involved in the accident.  Of them, 22 hail from greater Sylhet.

Of the Bangladeshis rescued alive from the capsized boat, 14 have been identified.

Four of them are receiving treatment in a Tunisian hospital. The others are currently at a local shelter.

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