25 February 2013
Group urges undocumented OFWs to avail Saudi amnesty; 1-M migrants expected to avail
Migrant rights’ group Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) today urges all overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who have been staying in Saudi Arabia but failed to get their residence permit renewed -they are those who have been ‘undocumented’ for years- after the Saudi government announced that it will grant amnesty.
Yesterday, during a forum organized by various Saudization committees of regional governorates, Labor minister Adel Fakieh announced the Saudi govt. is planning to clean up its country’s labor market. He was quoted as saying that ‘undocumented foreign workers can leave the Kingdom on exit-only visa without being penalized.’
The issue of ‘cleaning up’ the Saudi’s labor market has been a subject of criticisms from owners of private companies and foreign workers as the Labor ministry recently imposed a SR.2,400 levy to get the residence permit of foreign workers renewed.
In reaction to this, M-ME regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said his group welcomes the announcement of Labor Minister Adel Fakieh in granting amnesty to all undocumented migrant workers in the Kingdom adding “it’s certainly a humanitarian act. It will give our fellow expatriates chance to reunite with their loved ones after years of being away from their respective families.”
Monterona added that his group has been actively campaigning for the repatriation, if not legalization, of undocumented migrants including OFWs.
“Regardless of nationality, Filipinos or not, they share the same struggles –that of being undocumented and it’s not that easy being ‘illegals’. They are prone to all types of abuses. In fact, most of the undocumented were run away being victim of human rights and labor rights violations,” Monterona noted.
Monterona calls on the PH embassy in Riyadh to seek guidance on this amnesty announcement from the Labor minister.
“The guidelines will help our fellow undocumented OFWs getting out of Saudi Arabia without much hassle and without being penalized. The PH embassy must conduct an information dissemination campaign regarding this,” the Saudi-based OFW leader suggested.
Monterona calls on all undocumented OFWs to enlist at PH embassy in Riyadh and consulate in Jeddah.
“As of now, we have monitored little more than 7,000 undocumented OFWs who have enlisted themselves to the PH consulate in Jeddah requesting for repatriation since last year.”
As to the numbers of undocumented OFWs, Monterona conservatively estimates their numbers to reach around 26,000 to 30,000 Filipino workers in the Kingdom mostly household service workers and construction workers.
There are about 8-M migrant workers in Saudi Arabia, in which 1.2-M are Filipinos, 3rd largest migrant community in the oil-rich Kingdom.
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator
Mobile No. 00966 559428739