Bangladesh asks IOM, India for Yemen rescue

Bangladesh has formally approached UN migration agency IOM and discussed with India on ways to bring back stranded Bangladeshis from trouble-hit Yemen.

Published : 1 April 2015, 07:39 AM
Updated : 1 April 2015, 08:09 PM

Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque said on Wednesday that between 1,500 and 3,000 Bangladeshis were estimated to be in Yemen before the conflict escalated.

He said most of them are concentrated in Aden, which is a “safer” zone as the Yemen government appears to be in control there.

“We don’t have a mission in Yemen. Our Kuwait mission is accredited to Yemen and it is far off from the country.

“We are trying to reach our officer but only the viable way to reach there is sending them by sea. Hope we’ll be able to send our officer,” he told at a press briefing on Wednesday.

He said they had formally approached the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and touched base with India, which was mobilising ships and aircrafts to being back Indians stranded there.

Bangladesh had strongly condemned the Houthi militia action in Yemen and supports Saudi Arabia-led efforts to restore the legitimate state authority.

The Houthi rebels, representing a Shia minority that makes up around a third of Yemen's population, emerged as the most powerful force in the Arabian Peninsula's poorest country last year when they captured capital Sana’a.

They ousted President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled the country in February amid the Houthi uprising.

Bangladesh in a statement on Monday deplored acts of violence perpetrated by Houthis on the people of Yemen “resulting in humanitarian crisis”.

Foreign nationals have deserted Yemen capital in the wake of the attacks.

The UN, too, has evacuated about a hundred of its international staff from Sana’a, which has been under Houthi control since September.

The foreign secretary said they had opened a round the clock helpline and “anyone can contact with any of our personal numbers”.

“We are ready to cooperate in all possible ways,” he said.

Poor Yemen is not a destination for Bangladeshis who mostly migrate as a labour force.

Yemenis too migrate as labour force to their neighbouring countries.

The foreign secretary said those who are stranded now used to work mostly with different international organisations.

“We have established a link. We cannot say that all want to come back. They basically want to know about the situation from us,” he said replying a question.

Our New Delhi Correspondent adds:  India says it has received requests from Bangladesh for help in bringing back their nationals.

"We will do our best to help Bangladesh which is a friendly country," said an official at the ministry of external affairs.

He said India is mobilising some big ships and aircraft and sending junior external affairs minister VK Singh to Djibouti to oversee the rescue of its nationals.

Singh is a former Indian army chief and known to be very friendly to Bangladesh, as he fought 1971 war as a young lieutenant of the Indian army.