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KSA intensifies drive against illegal workers

International Desk: The Saudi Arabian government yesterday intensified its ongoing drive against illegal foreign workers.
Shahidul Islam, Bangladesh ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said they did not have any information about detention of any Bangladeshi there.

“We are not worried about the crackdown as a very few Bangladeshis are working here illegally after the end of an amnesty period in March,” he told The Daily Star over the phone.

Some Bangladeshis, who recently came to Saudi Arabia on Hajj and Umrah visas, might have been working illegally, said the envoy.

The KSA government deported over one lakh illegal foreign workers, including many Bangladeshis, in last six months, said media reports.

English daily Arab News yesterday reported that the labour and interior ministers of the country had a meeting on Tuesday. The ministers pledged to inspect documents of foreign workers at their workplaces and also on streets.

The decision was made as many illegal foreigners were still working there beyond the amnesty period.

An official statement issued after the meeting warned Saudi sponsors and employers against allowing their employees to work for other firms. The employers would face stiff punishment for labour-related offenses.

Individual employers who allow illegal expatriates to work for others or for their personal accounts would be fined SR 15,000 and the illegal expatriate would be deported.

The punishment would get harsher if they continued committing the crime, said that statement, said the notice.
In early May last year, the Saudi authorities had set July 4 of the same year as the deadline for amnesty, allowing the illegal foreign nationals to legalise their visa status or change their jobs, or return home without facing any penalty.

The deadline was extended more than once before it finally ended in March this year.

The move came as a blessing for around eight lakh Bangladeshis who had been staying illegally in the KSA. Over 1.5 million Bangladeshis are currently working in different sectors of the Middle Eastern country, according to the Bangladesh mission.


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