Saudi Arabia gives workers reprieve in illegal immigration crackdown

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An undocumented African immigrant is seen as he tries to escape in Thamama, Riyadh on 10 March 2013. A group of around 40 African immigrants, mostly Ethiopians on a pilgrimage to the Hajj, were detained after breaking their visa conditions and staying in the country longer than permitted, according to police sources. (Photo: Reuters - Stringer)

Published Sunday, April 7, 2013

Saudi Arabia has given undocumented foreign workers a three-month grace period to legalize their status, after panic over reported mass deportations, an official statement said.

King Abdullah ordered the interior and labor ministries to allow "workers violating the labor and residency system a maximum of three months to rectify their situation," said the statement carried by SPA state news agency Saturday.

The Saudi authorities this year imposed new labor constraints affecting millions of expatriates in the Gulf state, in a move that sparked fears of mass deportations among the immigrant workers.

Some 200,000 people, mostly Asians, have been expelled from the oil-rich kingdom in the past three months based on the new restrictions, immigration officials say.

It is unclear how many people would be affected by the new restrictions.

Saudi Arabia has more than eight million foreign workers, mostly in very low-paid jobs, according to official figures.

On Tuesday, a Yemeni government official told AFP that thousands of Yemeni workers have been expelled from Saudi Arabia.

In India, Oommen Chandy, the Chief Minister of Kerala, home to a large number of expatriates based in Saudi Arabia, wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking him to intervene, Press Trust of India reported on Friday.

The new regulations introduced by the labor ministry aim to reduce the number of foreign workers to create jobs for millions of unemployed Saudis. Saudi nationals reportedly make up only a tenth of the workforce in the private sector.

Under the new rules, foreigners are allowed to work only for their legal sponsors in the kingdom while their spouses cannot take up jobs.

Many foreigners enter Saudi Arabia under the sponsorship of a Saudi national but end up working for others, or set up their own businesses.

The labor ministry's inspections have forced tens of thousands of workers to leave their workplaces and hide at home, including many private school teachers whose absence has disrupted school classes.

A video posted online Monday, and later removed, showed alleged undocumented immigrants tied up and kicked by a group of Saudi citizens, as a fatigue-wearing man lukewarmly attempted to disperse the crowd.

(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

Comments

Ethiopia has given assylum to the prophet and his daughter during the old days now the saudis are chasing and killing ethiopians isnt this weird

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