Dhaka moves to repatriate boat tragedy survivors from India

January 4th, 2009 - 11:53 am ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Jan 4 (IANS) Bangladesh has instructed its deputy high commission in Kolkata to arrange for the return of 67 Bangladeshis, who were rescued by the Indian Coast Guard that found them drifting in the Indian Ocean.Scores of those who boarded a boat to enter Malaysia illegally in search of jobs are believed to have died after drifting for 45 days, when they ran out of food and water, the Daily Star said.

Around 400 people, including some Myanmarese, had boarded the boat and were marooned after their agent duped them and left, reports have said.

Some 90 km off Port Blair, capital of India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 67 of them jumped off the boat. They are now sheltered by the Indian authorities in the port city.

They identified themselves as Bangladeshis and expressed their desire to return home, The Daily Star said Sunday.

“The Indian authorities have already sent a list of 67 people who identified themselves as Bangladeshi nationals,” said a foreign ministry official here. The remaining might be of other nationalities, he added.

He said the survivors would be taken to Kolkata in West Bengal first and from there they would be repatriated.

Asked about the cost of repatriation, the official said the foreign ministry requested the wage earners’ welfare fund authorities to provide the money.

“Money will not be a problem. There are NGOs that can also help,” he said.

The boat tragedy hit headlines amidst Bangladesh’s ninth general election and newspaper editorials blamed the government and the poor job situation in the country that made people take desperate measures to seek jobs overseas.

A large work force of Bangladeshis is employed in relatively prosperous southeast Asian countries where immigration authorities claim from time to time that many enter illegally and are jailed on being located.

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