Dec 22 2011
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Saudi Arabia: 'Hafiz' flayed for precluding job hunters above 35
RIYADH: Saudi citizens have criticized the Hafiz unemployment program for excluding job seekers over the age of 35.
Some of them, including Riyadh resident Huda, have complained to the Human Rights Commission over the stipulation set by the Ministry of Labor.
"Who is the unemployed? Aren't they people who cannot find a job?" she said.
Minister of Labor Adel Fakeih said those who do not qualify for the government's SR2,000 a month unemployment allowance will get skills training paid for by the state. "I am trained and qualified for a job, let alone Hafiz, yet still unemployed and ineligible for the allowance. Where is the justice in that?" said Huda.
Fakeih said the training and other services will be provided by the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) to support and assist Saudis in finding suitable jobs and earn a decent living.
Public criticism of the ministry's unemployment allowance was expressed mainly on social networks. Many have called for age limit to be scrapped.
"There are many Saudi women who have been searching for work for over 10 years, and I am one of them, albeit over 35," said Huda.
According to statistics, there are thousands of citizens over 40 who can be considered unemployed as they have been unable to find work for many years.
Ibrahim Al-Meaiqil, director of the HRDF, said more than 2 million people have applied for the Hafiz allowance. A total of 700,000 people currently qualify for assistance, 70 percent of whom women. They will receive a payment of SR2,000 a month for one year.
Al-Meaiqil said in newspaper interviews that the government has set conditions to ensure that only deserving people get assistance.
Yet Huda and many other unemployed Saudis in her position are disappointed. They said it turned out to be less helpful than anticipated at its launch, Huda indicated. "When Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah announced the Hafiz program early this year, I like many Saudis looked forward to receiving a monthly salary of SR2,000, which would have aided in the struggle of maintaining a decent life," said Huda.
According to the program, there are only 1 million unemployed Saudis in the age group of 20 to 35. "So what are we considered to be if we are over 35 and jobless for 10 years?" said Huda.
"We are citizens and deserve to feel secure, and this is a human rights issue in my opinion."
© Arab News 2011
© Copyright Zawya. All Rights Reserved.
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