Nepal issues 35,000 return visas to illegal workers in Saudi Arabia

Following Saudi Arabia’s April 5 announcement of amnesty for illegal workers from all countries, Nepal’s Riyadh-based embassy has so far issued more than 35,000 travel documents to Nepalis, Nepal’s Foreign Ministry confirmed on Sunday.

“We have received reports that at least 35,000 return visas have been stamped by our diplomatic mission in a bid to take Nepali citizens, lacking legal documents, back home,” Ministry spokesperson Durga Bahadur Subedi told Xinhua.

It is estimated that around 70,000 Nepalis out of 400,000 based in Saudi Arabia are illegal. Of the total Nepalis, around 20 percent or 80,000 are said to be women working mostly as the domestic help.

“Most of the Nepalis staying illegally in Saudi are illiterate and have rural backgrounds. They even do not know that they have been offered a chance to escape punishment in Saudi,” said Nepal’ ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Uday Raj Pandey.

Among the targeted groups, only a few have applied for return, while many have been confined to buildings where the embassy, too, has little access, said Pandey.

Major hurdles have been witnessed in terms of detecting Nepali women migrant workers, who landed in Saudi Arabia via India.

These women’s departure remains undocumented in Nepal, while the government records show only 688 Nepali women working in Saudi, a number far below the real figure.

Saudi’s rule on “Kafala” (sponsorship) prevents outsiders including diplomats from entering a private residence so as to locate the migrant workers.

The Saudi government announced that the workers lacking legal documents will be offered amnesty so that they can either update their legal status or move back to their home countries.

As per the announcement, around 1.5 million illegal workers of various nationalities are preparing to leave, while 180,000 have already left for their home countries. In between, some 500,000 migrant workers have updated their status to a legal one, making their stay valid as per the law.



Article Reference:   www.globaltimes.cn

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