Kamal Munshi from Dakkhin Lonsing village of Naria upazila in Shariatpur left home three years ago to illegally go to Italy. He had no contact with his relatives including mother since 29 June.

The family came to know Kamal died while crossing the Mediterranean. Now the middlemen are demanding money from the family for his dead body. Helpless Nasima Begum implored the foreign secretary and Italian ambassador to bring back the dead body of her son.

Nasima Begum cried and said, "I have made a mistake. I have lost my son. No more mother should lose their children in this way. They (middlemen) said the dead body is in Tunisia. We request you all how we can bring back the dead body of my son."

While moderating a meeting to exchange views against human trafficking at Shariatpur municipality auditorium on Friday, foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen assured Nasima Begum of taking steps about whereabouts her son.

In association with the foreign ministry, the district administration organised the meeting in a bid to prevent human trafficking and to encourage safe migration.

Recently, Libyan coast guard and Tunisian navy rescued many Bangladeshi nationals while travelling to Italy crossing the Mediterranean via Libya and Tunisia. Later, Bangladesh embassy in Libya sent them back with the help of International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Since September last till this month, 1,370 people have been brought back to the country. Later, a team led by the security service division of the home ministry collected information from the Bangladeshis who were brought back to the country.

A review of the information given by those people revealed that most of them are aged between 20 to 25 years. They are from Madaripur and Shariatpur districts mostly. They were trying to move to Italy with the help of middlemen. Taking this into consideration, the foreign ministry decided to hold the awareness discussion against human trafficking in Shariatpur.

While moderating the second segment of the meeting to exchange views, Masud Bin Momnen said the foreign ministry will search for missing Kamal Munshi. Highlighting Nasima Begum’s fate he urged everyone to play their part in creating mass awareness about irregular migration.

The foreign secretary said 186 Bangladeshis, who were rescued while going to Italy via illegal routes, will be brought back home next week.

He said the country’s image is tarnished by such bids to become immigrants. He also underlined the scope to become legal after going to European countries through illegal means, has shrunk.

Speaking as the chief guest, lawmaker Nahim Razzak said political and social leaders have to work to stop illegal immigration.

Most of the 400,000 illegal immigrants living in Italy are from Shariatpur and Faridpur districts, he said urging all to come forward in thwarting illegal immigration.

Stressing on the need to fight against human traffickers, the Italian ambassador said it is an imperative to create awareness about the risk associated in illegal migrating to a destination such as Italy.

A total of 28,405 people reached Italy illegally in the first three months of this year, which is 31 per cent more than the last year. Bangladesh currently tops the list of illegal immigrants in Italy as 4,606 people reached the European country illegally this year.

He said people are being duped by human traffickers, held hostage in countries such as Libya and being subjected to torture.

He said coordinated efforts such as taking action against human traffickers, creating awareness, finding the main reasons for people’s interest in illegal migration and finding alternative legal ways of migration are needed to stop illegal migration.

Inspector general of police Benazir Ahmed urged the people of Shariatpur and other parts of the country not to spend Tk 2.5 to Tk 3 million for going abroad illegally through dangerous routes.

Home ministry’s senior secretary Md Akhter Hossain, secretary of expatriate welfare and overseas employment ministry’s secretary Ahmed Munirus Salehin, superintendent of Shariatpur police SM Ashrafuzzaman, deputy commissioner Md Parvez Hasan also spoke at the programme.