Bangladeshis detained in Ukraine appeal for rescue amid Russian invasion

Five Bangladeshis stranded in a Ukrainian detention camp amid its war with Russia after entering the country illegally have appealed to the government to come and rescue them.

Published : 6 March 2022, 02:52 PM
Updated : 6 March 2022, 02:52 PM

After their appeal for help in a video was shared on Deutsche Welle Bangla’s Facebook page, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Sunday said the government was gathering more information about them.

It will try to bring them back once more details are available, he said.

In the video, a man named Riyadul Malik said they were 60 kilometres from Ukraine’s border with Belarus. “Anything can happen anytime. We humbly request you to rescue us from here.”

More than 100 people, including women and children, are held in the camp, according to him. “The only crime we committed is we crossed the border illegally. We’ve been here for 15 months. Those in the other camps have been freed because they know it’s risky to keep people in the camps.”

With a Sylheti accent, Riyadul continued: “Russia's bombing army bases. We're very scared.”

“We hear explosions and gunfire at night. The lights are switched off at night. They have kept 10 people in a place suitable at best for three to four.”

Riyadul said they were able to bring a phone with them into the camp, although devices are banned there. They could not contact their families.

Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Feb 24 in a massed assault by land, sea and air, the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War Two.

Momen said the five Bangladeshis went to Europe with visas to see a match of the 2018 Russia Football World Cup but crossed the border illegally into Ukraine with an aim to travel to another country. But they were detained by the Ukrainian authorities.

“We haven’t contacted them directly yet, but our mission there [in neighbouring Poland] is working on the matter. Our associates are trying to gather more information. If the information is correct, we'll try to repatriate them."

He also said it would take time for the authorities to bring back the body of Hadisur Rahman, the third engineer of the Bangladeshi ship Banglar Samriddhi who was killed in shelling in Ukraine. “It’s kept in a safe place.”

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said they estimate around 1,000 Bangladeshis were in Ukraine and most of them crossed the border to Poland and other neighbouring countries after the war started. Nearly 100 Bangladeshis are still in Ukraine, according to him.