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Amnesty period extended for illegal workers in Saudi

2013 Jul 01

By Chrishanthi Christopher

 

As the three-month amnesty period for all illegal migrant workers to leave Saudi Arabia is due to expire early next month, Sri Lanka has been offered an extension of the time period to repatriate migrant workers, who are living under the bridges in Jeddah. The Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) told Ceylon Today, negotiations with the Saudi Government to request for an extension, has borne fruit and that all Sri Lankan illegal migrant workers in Saudi Arabia can be repatriated even after the amnesty period expires.

 

"This is not an extension of the amnesty period, but a concession to repatriate the workers even after the period expires after 4 July 2013, if registered," he said.

 

It is learnt that over 10,000 Sri Lankan migrant workers, who are registered with the Sri Lankan Embassy in Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Arabian Police, still remain in camps under bridges in Jeddah and its suburbs, waiting for their exit permits to be issued. "They have all been registered with the Saudi Police but have not received exit permits," Randeniya said.He said the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is slow in issuing exit permits to workers and only around 2,100 workers had been flown home since the crackdown on illegal migrant workers began in the first week of May 2013.
“The Saudi Arabian Government has set aside only one day of the week, Monday, to process the exit permits of the illegal migrant workers from Sri Lanka and Pakistan. This makes it possible for only around 30-40 Sri Lankans to obtain their exit permits, per week,” he said.

 

Around 14,000 Sri Lankan migrant workers became illegal employees, following the Saudi Arabian Government’s move to localize employment and crackdown on all migrant workers, who are working without permits. Of this number, around 3,000 workers have negotiated with their present employers and have become legal.

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