102 rescued Bangladeshis safe in Addis Ababa, 4 still stuck in warzone, says official


A top Bangladesh official said more than 100 Bangladeshi readymade garment workers, who were earlier rescued from the war-torn Tigray region of Ethiopia, are now safe in Addis Ababa.

Tarik Hasan, counsellor and chargé d’affaires of Bangladesh embassy in Ethiopia, however, said four Bangladeshis are still stuck in the northern Tigray region and efforts are on to bring them back to safety.

“Earlier, 102 Bangladeshi workers were rescued with the support of the United Nations and the embassy. They are now safe in Addis Ababa. The embassy is in constant touch with them,” Hasan said.

“Unfortunately, four Bangladeshis, who work for an Indian company, are still in the restive Tigray region and we are trying to bring them back as soon as possible,” he said.

“They are still safe,” he added.

A source familiar with the issue told this correspondent that the four Bangladeshi workers could not make it on Saturday with the 102 others due to the objection from the local chief executive officer of the company where they are employed.  “The CEO of the global company agreed to release them, but the Indian local CEO is not letting them go, fearing the loss of money,” said the source.

“The Bangladesh embassy is trying to persuade the local CEO through the Indian Ambassador in that country. With time, things will most likely be more dangerous. We need to bring them out of Tigray as soon as we can,” he said.

The military confrontation between the federal government of Ethiopia and defiant authorities of its northern Tigray region, about 950 kilometres from Addis Ababa, began on November 4 after the prime minister of the country accused Tigray People’s Liberation Front of attacking a military base.

The conflict is set to get wider after the Tigriyan state militias fired rockets at the capital of neighbouring Eretria.

About the next step with respect to the 102 rescued Bangladeshis, Chargé d’affaires Hasan said that it will be decided by the employer, DBL Industries PLC and the embassy will facilitate.

“If asked and received permission from our headquarters in Dhaka, we [the embassy] can try to arrange a chartered flight for them,” he said.

Even if they go home now, it should not be a problem for the workers to get the jobs back once they are back in Ethiopia later, said the official.

To a question, he said that the Ethiopian government has been very helpful.

Around 1,000 Bangladeshis used to live in Ethiopia before the outbreak of coronavirus. Now, it is estimated that 700-750 Bangladeshis are currently living in that country.

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