Published: Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Broke, they return home

17 victims of manpower touts brought back from Egypt by MGH Group

Overseas jobseeker Nur-e-Alam is hugged by his crying mother Shahnoor Begum and son Russell at Shahjalal International Airport late Sunday night. Alam returned from Egypt empty handed as he was cheated by brokers who sent him abroad on a tourist visa. Photo: Palash Khan

Overseas jobseeker Nur-e-Alam is hugged by his crying mother Shahnoor Begum and son Russell at Shahjalal International Airport late Sunday night. Alam returned from Egypt empty handed as he was cheated by brokers who sent him abroad on a tourist visa. Photo: Palash Khan

It is not a new dress or a new pair of shoes. His father’s return turned out to be the best gift for 10-year-old Russell at Eid this year.
“I do not need anything else (for this Eid),” a happy Russell said, holding his father’s hand as Nur-e-Alam came out of the arrival lounge of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport after a nightmarish eight-month stay in Egypt, illegally.
To their near and dear ones, the return of the 17 Bangladeshis from Egypt Sunday night was the best they could hope for once they realised that their investment in overseas jobs had gone in vain due to deception by local brokers.
But to the returnees, it was not a happy feeling coming back empty-handed after spending all their life’s savings and serving for months in jails of a country, which they had dreamt of earlier, would make them rich.
The seventeen, who went to Egypt separately, were told they would get lucrative jobs when they landed in the African country.
A broker in Bhola took Tk 1,70,000 and arranged for him a tourist visa.
“When I inquired why the tourist visa was being given to me, he assured me I would get a job immediately after I landed in Egypt,” Alam, who flew to Cairo last November, told The Daily Star.
But there was no one in Egypt to give jobs to him or the other sixteen, contrary to what the local brokers had assured them.
“As I was not allowed to work, I had to do some menial jobs out of sight of the law,” Alam said.
After their visas expired, the seventeen men later tried to slip into Libya but failed.
Law enforcers in Egypt arrested them near the border and sent them to Kanatar Kharia jail.
On receiving information about the matter, the Bangladesh embassy in Cairo contacted the Bureau of Manpower and Training.
The Bangladesh-based multinational company MGH Group later stepped in to bear the cost of repatriation of the workers.
Talking to The Daily Star, Shamsul Alam, 40, a native of Rangpur, said he gave a broker Tk 2.70 lakh in 2011 for a job in a Libyan juice factory on a monthly salary of Tk 35,000. He was told that he would have to go to Egypt first.
“Four days into landing in Egypt last October, the Egyptian army arrested me,” said Alam.
“How will I survive now with my two kids?” cried Golam Nabi, 35, from Jessore while describing the sufferings of his family as he could not send them any money from Egypt.