(Updated) Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia - As the Saudi government intensifies its crackdown campaign against overstaying and undocumented migrant workers, an alliance of Filipino migrants right group in the Middle East today said there are already 32 undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), 26 of them women, that have been apprehended since yesterday night.
Receiving reports from its chapter in Al-Khobar, Eastern region of Saudi Arabia, John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator said Saudi authorities started raiding various accommodations of migrant workers in suspicion that there are overstaying and undocumented expatriates.
Yesterday night, a composite team from Jawasat police and mutawa (cultural police) started the crackdown by raiding accommodations and houses at Tukbah, Al-Khobar, where suspected undocumented migrants are staying.
“We appeal to the Saudi government to respect the rights of undocumented migrants, including OFWs in the conduct of its intensified campaign to hunt 'illegal' and undocumented migrants,” Monterona averred.
Monterona said Migrante, as an organization advancing and defending the rights and welfare of migrant workers, is urging the Saudi government to consider granting a general amnesty that would cover illegal and undocumented migrant workers.
He also calls on the attention of the Philippine Embassy under the leadership of Charges de Affairs, Ad interim, Ezzadin Tago to make the same appeal to the Saudi government and properly represent those apprehended.
“We also calls on the Aquino govt. through the Office of Vice President Jejomar Binay and the Department of Foreign Affairs to lobby to the host government the legalization of all undocumented OFWs, giving them the option to be repatriated or to stay, and find job in the Kingdom,” Monterona added.
Last October, the Saudi government granted a Royal pardon but it was known later that it applies only to pilgrims and holder of visit visas who already lapsed and overstayed.
The Royal pardon would end until 31 March next year.
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator