Saudi agrees to send home 30-50 undocumented Filipino workers weekly

May 7, 2013 10:11 pm 

MANILA, May 7 -– Saudi Arabia has agreed to send home 30-50 undocumented Filipino maids a week, in a move seen to hasten the return to the Philippines of hundreds of others who have been stranded in the Kingdom for lack of valid immigration documents, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday.

But Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said the Philippine embassy appealed to the Saudi Foreign Ministry and the Saudi Social Welfare Administration to increase the quota to 150-200 persons weekly to expedite the repatriation of more Filipinos.

A total of 3,390 illegal Filipino workers in Riyadh have sought the Philippine Embassy’s assistance for repatriation amid Saudi’s get-tough policy on undocumented foreigners called Saudization, which has so far led to thousands of arrests and deportations.

Of this figure, 493 are children, 385 are mothers, 1,348 are female household service workers and 1,164 are male workers.

Hundreds more who lack proper documents are also awaiting their turn to be repatriated to the Philippines in Jeddah, Saudi’s fourth largest city where a large concentration of Filipinos are based.

Many of these Filipinos have set up camps outside Manila’s consulate in Jeddah or have transferred to a shelter inside the diplomatic mission for fear of being arrested by Saudi authorities.

Saudization or nitaqat prioritizes the employment of Saudi nationals in private firms dominated by foreigners such as Filipinos.

All those who are not in possession of proper immigration documents will be arrested and deported.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah on April 6 ordered a three-month delay to the crackdown on illegal migrant workers which has so far led to thousands of deportations.

The reprieve, which will end on July 9 this year, aims to give foreigners in the Kingdom — home to at least one million Filipinos — a chance to sort out their papers.

The Philippine government appealed to the Filipinos, many of whom are complaining of slow-paced repatriation, for patience as exit procedures for illegal foreigners in Saudi are tedious.

They need to go through clearance and secure exit visas before they are deported to their home countries. Manila has already asked Saudi to waive these mandatory requirements but has not yet received a response.

Hernandez also explained that the deportation process will be done in phases because the deportation center can only accommodate 5,000 individuals and that other nationalities are also being brought there. (PNA)



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