Why do many Bangladeshi migrants take irregular routes to Italy?

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At least 8,667 Bangladeshi citizens entered the European Union (EU) last year through irregular routes. According to Frontex statistics, the South Asian nation remains one of the main countries whose citizens try to enter Europe through dangerous irregular routes. Many of them choose to stay in Italy.

“I decided to go to Libya when my father died a few years ago. I was the only person in the eight-member family who had to do something to support the family,” Lakuira said. Sobuj, a Bangladeshi migrant who arrived in Italy last year. crossing the Mediterranean Sea on a boat from Libya, said InfoMigrants.

The 25-year-old Bangladeshi citizen spent around €4,000 traveling to Libya in 2020, which was his main work destination. He had no intention of coming to Europe at that time.

“My family is poor. My mother works as a maid in our village in Shariatpur district in central Bangladesh. I had to sell our cow and take out a loan to go to Libya,” he said. InfoMigrants.

Sobuj, who skipped school as a child due to poverty, worked as a construction worker for a few months in the Libyan city of Benghazi. But, it was difficult for him to get a salary from his employer. He was beaten when asked for his due. At some point, Sobuj decides to take the dangerous boat trip from Libya to Italy for a better life.

Crossing the Mediterranean

“We spent about 24 hours on a boat crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach the Italian island of Lampedusa from Libya on February 21, 2021. There were 93 people on the boat, of which more than 40 were my compatriots,” said he declared. InfoMigrants.

Since then, Sobuj has lived in a center for migrants in Rome, the Italian capital. His dream of getting a job in the European country is not yet realized.

“I had to pay an extra €2,000 to a human trafficker in Libya for my trip to Italy through the Central Mediterranean migration route. But I’m still unemployed here. I don’t know anyone here. Nobody didn’t offer me a job. My mom still works as a maid at home,” he said. InfoMigrantsadding, “I don’t know what’s in store for me in the future.”

Read also : Over 10,000 migrant arrivals in Italy in 2021

Seven migrants have died and some 280 have been rescued by the Italian Coast Guard after they were discovered in a crowded wooden boat off the Italian island of Lampedusa on January 25, 2022 | Photo: Picture Alliance/AP Photo/Pau de la Calle

Thousands of Bangladeshi citizens arrive in Europe via irregular routes

With a GDP of over $409 billion (€362 billion), Bangladesh is currently the world’s 37th largest economy and forecasts suggest that the size of the economy could double by 2030. Even though the country of Southeast Asia has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world. growing economies in recent years, thousands of its citizens are still trying to come to Europe through irregular routes in the hope of a better and safer life.

Annual statistics released by EU border agency Frontex show that at least 8,667 Bangladeshi citizens entered the bloc last year through irregular routes. Among them, 7,574 came via the Central Mediterranean route, 604 via the Eastern Mediterranean route and 437 via the Western Balkan migration route.

Bangladesh remains second in the list of countries published by Frontex whose citizens use the dangerous central Mediterranean migration route that connects Libya to Italy. Seven Bangladeshi migrants died of hypothermia last month while reaching the Italian island of Lampedusa from Libya the previous month. Such casualties are regular occurrences on the irregular road.

The coffins with the bodies of Bangladeshi migrants who died off Lampedusa at the end of January 2022, in Porto Empedocle (Agrigento) on January 30, 2022 |  Photo: ANSA/CONCETTA RIZZO
The coffins with the bodies of Bangladeshi migrants who died off Lampedusa at the end of January 2022, in Porto Empedocle (Agrigento) on January 30, 2022 | Photo: ANSA/CONCETTA RIZZO

Italy, first destination for Bangladeshi migrants

Frontex statistics suggest that most Bangladeshi migrants who entered the EU via irregular routes last year took refuge in Italy. The Western European country has remained the main destination for many irregular Bangladeshi migrants bound for Europe over the past decades.

Arafat Rahman, a Bangladeshi migrant who arrived in Serbia last year on a seasonal worker visa, said InfoMigrants that his ultimate destination was Italy.

“I have already spent thousands of euros to find a way to reach Italy from Serbia. And I hope to make it possible soon,” he said. InfoMigrants.

The migrant claimed that Bangladeshi human traffickers who live in the Balkan country take four to six thousand euros per person to smuggle them from Serbia to Italy.

They told me to pay a bribe of €16,000 to get the job which would bring me about €160 per month as salary.

“The safest way to make the trip is to get on a truck that goes to Italy from Serbia. But, you have to pay traffickers a lot of money to make that happen,” Rahman said, adding, “D “Other ways include crossing borders on foot, which is risky but cheaper.”

However, Rahman has yet to make the trip. Instead, he ended up living in a migrant center in the Balkan country because a human trafficker stole his money and threatened to kill himself if he tried to complain to the police. incident.

“I came to Serbia hoping to reach Italy after failing to find a job as a computer operator in a court in Bangladesh. They told me to pay a bribe of €16,000 to get the job which would bring me about €160 a month as salary,” Rahman said. InfoMigrants.

“But I decided not to take the job because the bribe was too high. I will earn a lot more in Italy and pay back the loan I took to come here,” he added. .

Read also : More than 80,000 requests for regularization of migrants in Italy

Extract from the dossier: Bangladeshi migrants in Rome, Italy |  Photo: DW/A.Islam
Extract from the dossier: Bangladeshi migrants in Rome, Italy | Photo: DW/A.Islam

Why Italy?

“Around 150,000 Bangladeshi migrants live in Italy. They are employed in various sectors, including agriculture, shipbuilding and street trading,” said Shameem Ahsan, Bangladesh’s ambassador to Rome. InfoMigrants.

No other EU country has so many Bangladeshi migrants. The diplomat believes the Western European country has a welcoming attitude towards foreigners. It also occasionally legalizes migrant workers in an irregular situation.

“There has been a public perception that Italy is very lenient towards foreigners. This is why many people believe that they will obtain legal status at some point after entering the country via different routes,” Ahmed said. InfoMigrants.

Read also : Regularization in Italy – the rights coalition CILD answers the FAQ

Limited possibility of legal migration

After a long pause, the Italian government has authorized the hiring of workers from Bangladesh in the “seasonal” and “non-seasonal” categories from 2020. According to a circular issued by the Bangladesh Embassy in Rome last month, the Italy will issue 69,700 visas to 31 non-European Union countries, including Bangladesh, this year.

“Bangladeshi migrants should try to come to Italy through legal channels. Irregular migrants will eventually be deported as Bangladesh has signed standard operating procedures (SOPs) with the EU to expedite repatriation,” said Shameem Ahsan.

But, experts believe the legal route for Bangladeshi migrants to Italy is still minimal.

“Only 3,500 Bangladeshi migrants will be able to come to Italy under the recent circular. This is a tiny number compared to the hundreds of thousands of people interested in coming to the European country,” said Palash Rahman, a Bangladeshi journalist based in the Italian city of Venice, told InfoMigrants.

“We need to create more legal opportunities for Bangladeshi workers to tackle irregular migration to Europe,” he said.

Read also : Europe: few routes for unskilled migrants

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