On board SEA-EYE 4, a young man from Bangladesh told our crew member Fiona why he left his country and the dangers he faced in Libya. The following report is based on two conversations documented with audio recordings and notes.
I was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in a family of 5. I came here alone.
I have many problems back home and I think about it constantly… Life in Bangladesh is diﬃcult. If you are born poor, you stay poor, even if you work hard. I’m responsible for my family as I’m the only son, I have to provide for them and take care of them.
Both of my parents can’t work anymore. My mother had a job in a garments factory but she became very ill and my father is too old to work. He is a good man and a good farmer but the work is becoming too hard for him.
My two sisters would like to study, in Bangladesh you can ﬁnd a decent job if you get a school diploma. I don’t want them to work in the ﬁelds… but we have no money, we can’t even eat properly. Two bags of rice cost half of what I make in a month.
Since covid happened, the situation in Bangladesh has deteriorated, climate change is also aﬀecting us a lot. My mother told me to go to Libya because she believed that I could make good money there, get a good job with a good salary. She sold the family gold jewellery to pay for my plane ticket to Libya.
I do not know how much my mother paid but I heard some people spent 300000 taka (3000 dollars) to smugglers. We travelled through Dubai. When we arrived at the airport in Libya, we called a phone number which was given to us in Bangladesh, then some men came and brought us to a warehouse. We were told we would sleep there for 200 dinar per month.
My mother was wrong, Libya is a dangerous place…about 95 % of bad people and 5 % of good. I have spent one year there before the boat crossing. I worked in housekeeping with eight Bangladeshi, three Sudanese and four Egyptians. Our boss was a wicked man. He would not pay the wages. If you refused to work, he would beat you or threaten to kill you with a gun to your head. I worked for ﬁve months without being paid, I was originally promised 1200 dinar per month.
After some time, some of my friends began talking about going to Italy, getting a small boat with a few people, about twenty-ﬁve. We had a connection through a taxi driver, a good man, with the ‘Libyan maﬁa’ to buy a boat. The boat along with the satellite, gps and lifejackets would cost 12000 dinar. It took us two months to gather the money.
We left on the 5th of May, at 10 pm, to avoid the coast guards.
A few hours later, around 2 am, water suddenly began to get inside. The boat was faulty, there was a hole inside, we tried to ﬁx it as much as possible but the water was stronger.
Then we saw the lights of a big cargo ship about 2 km away. We called them for help. The captain of the cargo contacted the Italian coastguards, but they were 445 km away. We called several ships for help, but nobody answered. I prayed for our lives. Finally, BSG Bahamas intervened and told us that the Sea-Eye 4 boat would come to rescue us.
I’m alive, by Allah’s grace but I’m sad because I miss my family. I haven’t seen them in one year. My phone fell in the water and I have no contact with them since leaving Libya.
It’s my life. My family is my dream. I want to buy a big house for them, a big wedding for my sisters. I wish for a wife and many children.