656 thousand migrants deported from Saudi Arabia

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Aug 3 2013

Departing migrants: "We escaped the mistreatment of Saudi sponsors."

Saudis: "Deportations will help create jobs and decrease crimes."

Official: "Those trafficked to the Kingdom will be punished. Citizens should not hire violators."

Since the beginning of King Abdullah's "corrective period" last April, at least 656 thousand migrants were deported or have willingly left the Saudi kingdom. The Kingdom has extended the period for three more months set to end in mid November. Officials promised raids and punishments for migrants who choose to not turn themselves in during the remaining time of the amnesty period.

In early July, Saudi TV channel "Line Sport" aired a 90 minutes episode on the developments of the "corrective period" stating the number of those deported at 497 thousand. This means 159 thousand were deported in the month of July alone. The episode included interviews with migrants at the Riyadh migration office. Some of those said they lived undocumented in the kingdom for over 20 years. Interviewees said they lost their legal status because of the mistreatment of their sponsors or to seek better job opportunities. Saudi citizens interviewed complimented the king's initiative saying the campaign will help create jobs for nationals and decrease crime rates.

To get the official side, Mohammed al-Enizi from 'Riyadh's department of Expatriates' Affairs' was interviewed. He stated that those who were trafficked and have no record of a legal entrance will not benefit from the exceptions offered in this corrective period. He said the ministry will be applying the law on violators even after the period is finished. Penalties on violations of labor laws extend to two years in jail and up to 100 thousand Saudi Riyals or both penalties.

Regarding the violations of Saudi employers and sponsors against migrants, al-Enizi stated: "It is true that some Saudis have committed violations that harmed our society and country. This is why we are putting laws into action." He directed a message to Saudi nationals: "I wish that citizens would commit to laws and follow instructions by not hiring violating migrants. Committing to laws will force violators to leave the country."

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East