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1 Million migrants expected to leave during Saudi Amnesty

On April 24, 2017

Saudi authorities expect 1 million expats to avail of the amnesty which began on March 29, 2017.  Around 6,000 Pakistanis nationals in the cities of Jeddah and Madinah alone sought assistance from their consulate within a week of the amnesty’s launch. More than 3,655 Indian workers have applied to leave the country as well.  

The Philippines expects 6,000 workers to return home, with 3,000 having already applied for the amnesty.  Over 138 Filipino workers and their children have already been repatriated, accompanying PresidentDuerte home following his visit to the region. According to the Philippines, most of the returned workers were mistreated and underpaid domestic workers. 

Embassies and consulates are assisting their citizens in making arrangements to leave the country.  The amnesty appears better coordinated than Saudi’s last, with social media in several languages being used to reach expats across the country

The campaign poster published by  @AljawazatKSA

The campaign poster published by @AljawazatKSA

The language of the amnesty, however, remains problematic; the campaign is depicted as an attempt to relieve local economies from the 'stress caused by undocumented migrant workers, improve safety, and reduce unemployment.'  The government and media cast the blame for these socioeconomic woes entirely on workers, rather than on a mismanaged migration regime and a labour market that pushes workers to become undocumented.

This narrative is used to shield the government's economic mismanagement as well. The drop in the global price of oil ushered in budget cuts, including cuts to public payroll and subsidies. In a bid to shift nationals to the private sector and reduce unemployment, authorities announced that all 'mall jobs' would soon be limited to Saudi nationals. 

Blaming migrants also justifies the crackdown on undocumented workers that is sure to follow the amnesty.