We express our profound condolences at the death of 37 Bangladeshis who perished in the Mediterranean Sea when their boat capsized. These fellow citizens of ours, along with others, were attempting to find the means to a better life in Europe, as so many thousands from other parts of the world have done in recent years. Our sympathies go to the families of the dead.

We would, however, like to make it clear that we condemn illegal migration in any form. Responsibility for the mishap that has now occurred now lies with those who, clearly in return for hefty amounts of money, promised them the dream of reaching the shores of Europe and find a happy future there. Probably these desperate souls were unaware of the stringent measures now in place in Europe against illegal migration. It is likely that those who sent them out on the high seas deliberately concealed such facts from them.

For Bangladesh's embassies abroad, it is now essential to keep track of Bangladeshis who enter the countries where these missions are based. It is of course a tough job, given that people on their own and in the countries where they originally go for work are on a search for elements who promise to have them go to countries in Europe in search of a better life. In simple terms, these desperate people, lacking any proper legal means of travelling to the West in their search for jobs that will make it possible for them to send money back home in Bangladesh, are hoodwinked by such smugglers of human cargo. This is not the first time that such tragic happenings have occurred on the high seas. There have been instances of people from different parts of the world, especially Africa, sailing in rickety boats crammed with people and eventually drowning in the sea.

We go back to the issue of our diplomatic missions in the Middle East and elsewhere remaining alert to the conditions in which Bangladeshis live and work overseas. They must also inquire into the presence of people smuggling syndicates that might, sooner or later, try to lure our citizens on false promises and in return for hefty sums of money to the West. Only weeks ago, a gang of people smugglers involving Bangladeshis in the Nordic region was busted by police.

One last point: the government must be careful when it comes to cultural teams and media teams travelling abroad. Allegations have been there of members of these teams disappearing once they find themselves in the West. It is alleged that underhand deals take place in order to have them jettison their teams when they reach their destinations. Careful handling is called for here.

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