Monday, July 13, 2020 | ePaper

Take emergency measure to solve crisis of Saudi migrant workers

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AROUND 5,600 undocumented Bangladeshi migrant workers in Saudi Arabia have applied for their repatriation under a special exit programme. In December last year, the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) launched the programme offering illegal migrants a safe return to their home countries. However, over 7.5 lakh Bangladeshi workers are now in fear of getting deported from the country as their Iqamas-resident cards and work permits-have expired. The workers could not renew their work permits due to the Saudization of jobs and the increased fees for the renewal of job permits. Following a directive by the KSA, Bangladesh mission there started receiving applications from eligible migrants on December 22. Migrants who work in different companies without residence permits who have been declared absconding are eligible for the opportunity. Besides, those who had earlier received an exit permit from their sponsors but did not leave the Gulf country on time will also have the opportunity to return home in this process.
Under this programme, migrants will have to return home on their own within 15 days of obtaining the exit visa. As per the initiative, officials at Bangladesh embassy and Consulate General would submit the documents of the applicants to Saudi labour offices. The KSA authorities will then notify those who would be accepted for repatriation. Saudi Arabia is home to around 2 million Bangladeshi nationals. However, the Saudi government did not mention any deadline for the programme. The effort has been taken against the backdrop of frequent detention and deportation of undocumented Bangladeshi migrant workers by Saudi Arabia. In 2019, some 25,789 Bangladeshi migrant workers were deported by the Gulf country. Migrant rights activists asked for diplomatic steps without delay by the government to request the authorities there to reconsider the enhanced fees for the Iqama renewal.
High-level delegations from Bangladesh could be sent to that country to deal with the issue. Whatever the measure  taken - a prompt solution to the crisis is very much needed.

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