More than 2,800 Bangladeshis arrived on European shores from North Africa in the first three months of 2017, compared to only one over the same period in 2016, said the report from the London-based newspaper.
Those rescued in the Mediterranean told aid workers they paid more than $10,000 (nearly Tk 850,000) each to be taken from Dhaka to Dubai or Turkey and onwards to Libya, where powerful smuggling networks arrange hazardous travel to Europe, according to The Independent.
The demographics of asylum seekers in Italy has shifted dramatically since the new routes emerged, said The International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
“The thing that’s really changing is the main nationality of the migrants, and the number coming from Bangladesh,” IOM’s Flavio di Giacomo told The Independent.
“By the end of March last year only one Bangladeshi had arrived in Italy – and this year the number is more than 2,831 for the same period.”
Previously, Syrians fleeing the civil war had made up the largest group of boat migrants to Europe.
Some of the Bangladeshi migrants said their trip to Libya was organised by an “agency” that provided them with a working visa for between $3,000 (Tk 255,000) and $4,000 (Tk 340,000).
“From Bangladesh, they first travelled to Dubai and Turkey, and finally reached Libya by plane,” an IOM spokesperson said.
“At the airport, an ‘employer’ met them and took their documents.”