30 Filipinos Arrested in Heightened Saudi Crackdown – Migrante

2015-0318 30 Filipinos Arrested in Heightened Saudi Crackdown - Migrante

MANILA – At least 30 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were rounded up by Saudi authorities as the host government intensified the crackdown on overstaying migrants, according to Migrante-Middle East (M-ME), a migrants’ right group providing assistance to distressed and undocumented OFWs.

“Saudi authorities heightened crackdown on undocumented migrants that started last week nabbed at least 30 OFWs as per the initial combined reports we have received so far from our affiliates in the kingdom,” said John Leonard Monterona, M-ME regional coordinator, in an e-mailed news release from Saudi.

In Riyadh, Saudi’s capital, 900 illegal expatriates, including 20 women, were arrested during the first five days of the crackdown, Monterona said quoting local news reports.

In Batha, Sulay, and Industrial Area, composite teams from Saudi labor and commerce ministries and the Riyadh municipality were visible and very active conducting check points and at times searching houses with suspected illegal migrants.

Late last month, Saudi’s Ministry of Interior issued a stern warning saying that it will intensify the crackdown on illegal expatriates pointing to them as the main reason why crime rates have escalated in the Kingdom.

Not criminals

“The common notion that illegal migrants were the very reason why crime rate escalates in the kingdom is objectionable. Most of the so-called illegal migrants are actually victim of abuses, maltreatment, and labor rights violations who were forced to abscond,” Monterona claimed.

Those who were nabbed, according to Monterona, included mostly Asian migrant workers without resident permits, those working in jobs not matching with their work permit, and others working with another employer who were not their sponsors.

The group appeals to the host government not to treat the undocumented migrants as criminals.

“The undocumented migrants certainly don’t like their situation violating the host government immigration and labor policies, but there are factors that need to be looked at, such as the treatment and respect of the rights of expatriate workers by their employers,” Monterona said.

The group also calls on the Philippine government to provide assistance and follow up the immediate deportation of undocumented OFWs who are now languishing in Saudi jails.

“We would like to remind the Aquino government that there are 200 plus distressed women OFWs in Bahay Kalinga in Riyadh, while about 80 male OFWs in a shelter rented by the Philippine embassy most of them have been there for at least three months to 1 year,” Monterona claimed.

“Aquino and his administration could not even arrange swift and free mass repatriation of the distressed and stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabia. No onsite assistance as well. Aquino is criminally negligent to the OFWs and their families,” he added as he called for Aquino’s resignation.

(Source: InterAksyon.com)

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