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Mass exodus: Thousands leave Saudi in just 20 days of amnesty

Illegal immigrant workers cover their heads from the heat as they wait in line at the Saudi immigration offices at the Alisha area, west of Riyadh, in this file photo.

Illegal immigrant workers cover their heads from the heat as they wait in line at the Saudi immigration offices at the Alisha area, west of Riyadh, in this file photo.

REUTERS/FAISAL NASSER

19 April 2017

RIYADH — Thousands of illegal foreign workers have left the Kingdom taking advantage of an amnesty declared by the government.

Twenty days of the 90-day amnesty period have already passed.

The amnesty allows illegal workers to leave the Kingdom without fines or jail sentence for violating residency and labor regulations.

The government has adopted a soft policy toward illegals as it will not take their fingerprints and will allow them to reenter the country legally.

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The ongoing campaign is organized with the participation of 19 government departments to flush out at least one million violators of labor and residency laws within three months.

At least 5.5 million illegal foreign workers either left the Kingdom or corrected their status in a similar amnesty which was declared four years ago. Since the launch of the campaign on March 29, thousands of illegal workers have been pouring into passport offices across the Kingdom.

The Passport Department (Jawazat) has opened 78 offices in 13 regions including 16 in the Eastern Province, 10 in Riyadh, 12 in Makkah, seven in Qassim, four each in Madinah and Northern Border Province, three each in Asir and Hail, two in Baha, five in Najran, six in Tabuk and four in Al-Jouf.

“Nineteen government departments have contributed to the success of the campaign to drive out illegals,” said Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, spokesman of the Interior Ministry.

Turki Al-Manie, director general of the branch office of the Labor and Social Development Ministry, told Al-Hayat Arabic daily that the previous campaign in 2013 helped flush out 2.5 million workers and correct the status of three million others.

Lt. Col. Mohammed Al-Sayigh, director of the passport department in Al-Rass, said many illegals have already surrendered to police and left the country, making use of the amnesty.

© The Saudi Gazette 2017

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