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Relief for over 80,000 Nepali migrants
Publication Date : 26-02-2013
Aiming to clean up its labour market, Saudi Arabia has announced amnesty to over a million illegal migrant workers stuck in the desert Kingdom for years, Arab News reported on Monday quoting a high-level Saudi official. The amnesty, which was reportedly announced on Sunday, will clear the way for over 80,000 Nepalis to return home without being penalised.
Illegal workers in Saudi Arabia have to go through a lengthy, troublesome procedure which includes a term at a detention centre to leave the country. Saudi Arabia is the third biggest labour destination for Nepali migrant workers. The Nepali mission in Saudi estimates that over 500,000 Nepalis work there, around 70,000 of whom are female.
According to Arab News, the amnesty announcement was made by Saudi Labour Minister Adel Fakeih. Undocumented foreign workers can now leave Saudi Arabia on exit visas without being penalised, the paper quoted the minister as saying. The Saudi labour ministry has also widened the concept of illegal workers to include those not working under their sponsors or engaged in activities that are not mentioned in their work contracts and runaway workers.
Nepali Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Udaya Raj Pandey said that he came to know about the decision through the local newspaper. He termed the announcement a golden opportunity for illegal workers, who could otherwise face lot of adversity if they fail to utilise it. “The decision will be more beneficial to unskilled workers and housemaids. Family members should urge their relatives to seize this opportunity,” said Pandey.
The embassy said that it is ready to manage the required documents for all workers who are ready to leave. “We have not received formal confirmation of the amnesty but the embassy is ready to do everything to help workers stuck here,” he added. Saudi Arabia has about eight million foreign workers, out of which over one million are assumed to be illegal.