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India Provides Food Aid to Workers Laid Off in Saudi Arabia

  • Anjana Pasricha

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj addresses a press conference in New Delhi, India, June 19, 2016.

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj addresses a press conference in New Delhi, India, June 19, 2016.

India is giving food aid thousands of Indian workers stranded in Saudi Arabia who were laid-off their jobs. New Delhi is also working to bring them back home.

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted that over 10,000 workers are facing a “food crisis” and “extreme hardship.” Saying that a large number of Indians had lost their jobs she tweeted, “The employers have not paid wages, closed down their factories.”

Indian workers in Kuwait have also been affected, but Swaraj said while the situation in Kuwait is manageable, matters are much worse in Saudi Arabia.

Many jobs lost


Most of them are laborers who were working in construction companies and have been living in camps since losing their jobs.

The Indian government moved to act after the some of the affected workers tweeted that they had gone without food for three to four days in the camps where they were staying. Reports said the workers were desperate to return home, but had no money to pay for the trip.

Around three million Indians work in Saudi Arabia, but thousands have lost jobs in recent years as falling crude prices have impacted many construction companies, which rely on state contracts.

The Indian consulate in Jeddah said it had distributed over 15,475 kilograms of rice and other food in association with the Indian community and posted pictures of Indian workers lining up to receive the rations.

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has appealed to the local Indian community to pitch in and help the affected workers.

Going home

Junior foreign minister, V.K. Singh will travel to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to make arrangements to repatriate them.

Tens of thousands of Indians, many from southern states, travel to Gulf countries every year to work on construction sites and in other companies where they can earn more money than at home.

FILE - Foreign workers hold their passports as they gather outside a labour office, after missing a deadline to correct their visa status, in Riyadh, Nov. 4, 2013

FILE - Foreign workers hold their passports as they gather outside a labour office, after missing a deadline to correct their visa status, in Riyadh, Nov. 4, 2013

Human rights groups have said many foreign workers in Gulf countries face exploitation and abuse, including non-payment of wages and have no channels of redress. The Saudi government says it investigates complaints of companies not paying wages and obliges them to do so.

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