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Alexandria are transit points into Libya for Bangladeshi migrants

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According to European Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson, investigations into criminal organisations utilising Syrian airline Cham Wings to smuggle individuals into Europe are unknown in Brussels.
According to European Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson, investigations into criminal organisations utilising Syrian airline Cham Wings to smuggle individuals into Europe are unknown in Brussels.

She did, however, reveal that Bangladeshi nationals used Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Alexandria in Egypt as transit cities between Dhaka and Benghazi in Libya.

She stated that Brussels was “closely monitoring” the central Mediterranean migratory route, particularly the transit of Bangladeshi nationals from Libya to Italy, in response to a question posed in the parliament by Labour MEP Cyrus Engerer.


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“There are indications that the routes used to reach Libya from Dhaka (Bangladesh) are direct connections between Dubai and Benghazi or Alexandria and Benghazi. The Commission has no information on investigations concerning illegal activity by criminal groups using specific airlines like Cham Wings and others,” Johansson replied.

Engerer’s question was prompted by a MaltaToday report earlier this year that revealed Frontex intelligence on how Bangladeshi migrants are being smuggled aboard charter flights into Libya, where they get onto boats to reach Europe.

The confidential Frontex report seen by MaltaToday singled out Cham Wings as one of the airlines used by the criminal groups to smuggle people between Damascus in Syria and Benghazi in Libya.

Cham Wings is owned by Syrian businessman Issam Shammout. The airline is part of his family business, the Shammout Group, which is active in the automotive, steel, aviation, freight forwarding, construction, and real estate sectors.

On July 20 last year, the EU lifted sanctions against Cham Wings after the company was blacklisted in December 2021 for its alleged role in ferrying migrants seeking to cross illegally into Poland from Belarus that summer.

However, a day later, the EU placed Shammout on its sanctions list, calling him a “leading businessperson operating in Syria”.

Shammout is contesting the sanctions against him at the European Court of Justice.

Cham Wings, which does not operate in EU countries, remains subject to US sanctions, and pressure is building within the EU to follow suit.

The Frontext report shed light on what was a relatively new phenomenon of Bangladeshi migrants trying to shortcut the legal channels to come and work in Europe by hooking up with people smugglers who utilised chartered flights for the first part of the journey.

In its reply, the Commission told Engerer that talks on migration and mobility between the EU and Bangladesh in March this year established a permanent forum to stop people smuggling.

The Commission also noted that on June 6, it proposed new legislative, operational, and diplomatic measures to deal with the increasing illicit use of commercial transport by criminal networks to facilitate irregular migration into the EU.

The proposed toolbox includes measures to “suspend or revoke the operating licence of an EU air carrier” if they no longer meet the good-repute requirements of transport legislation. Another proposal is to strengthen cooperation and information exchange between the Commission, Frontex, and Eurocontrol to better monitor flights and gather data on emerging routes and patterns of irregular migration.

The issue of chartered flights ferrying immigrants to Benghazi was recently raised by a high-ranking Maltese government delegation in a first meeting with eastern Libya’s supreme commander, General Khalifa Haftar. The Maltese government’s delegation included the permanent secretary for the foreign affairs ministry and the Cabinet secretary.

Eastern Libya is governed by the House of Representatives and Haftar, both of which are not recognised by the international community as the legitimate representatives of Libya.

Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni earlier this year held meetings with Haftar in a bid to bridge with eastern Libya, where the internationally recognised Government of National Accord wields no power.

With migration routes along the western shores of Libya practically stifled, most migrants reaching Italy are now leaving from the east or from Tunisia.

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Daily Dazzling Dawn is the first and only international and non-profitable newspaper, which is 100% ownership of professional journalists from Bangladeshi origin with 20 years of experience in global journalism. The main aim of the newspaper is promoting ethical journalism with truth, accuracy and proficiency.

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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury

Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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