News / Middle East

African Workers in Riyadh Seek Repatriation After Riot Deaths

FILE - Foreign illegal laborers wait in a queue at the Saudi immigration offices at al-Isha quarter in al-Khazan district west of Riyadh, June 30, 2013.
FILE - Foreign illegal laborers wait in a queue at the Saudi immigration offices at al-Isha quarter in al-Khazan district west of Riyadh, June 30, 2013.
Reuters
Thousands of mostly African workers gathered in Riyadh on Sunday seeking repatriation after two people were killed in overnight rioting that followed a visa crackdown by Saudi authorities.
 
One of those killed was a Saudi, said a government statement, and the other was not identified. An Ethiopian man was killed in a visa raid last week.
 
Ethiopia's foreign minister condemned the deaths, and said that his government was working to bring its citizens home.
 
“This is unacceptable. We call on the Saudi government to investigate this issue seriously. We are also happy to take our citizens, who should be treated with dignity while they are there,” Foreign Affairs Minister Tedros Adhanom said.
 
He also said Addis Ababa had formally complained to Riyadh and that embassy staff were working to help Ethiopians return home.
 
Hundreds of foreign workers clashed with police on Saturday night and into Sunday in Manfouha, a poor district of southern Riyadh where many low-income expatriates live.
 
Saudi authorities said 68 were also wounded, including 20 Saudis. More than 500 were detained and over 100 cars torched.
 
The Saudis said earlier this year that they would no longer tolerate visa irregularities which have led to a large black market in cheap foreign labor in the world's top oil exporter.
 
Government raids on businesses, markets and homes began last week after a seven-month amnesty for foreigners to correct their visas or leave without paying penalties for overstaying or breaking other rules ended on Nov. 4.
 
Crowded Scenes
 
In Manfouha, a long line of buses slowly filled up as Africans arrived from neighboring streets, alone or in groups and carrying bags.
 
Groups of people in Arab and south Asian dress stood on rooftops to watch. While the scene unfolded peacefully, many police stood nearby and several ambulances were also present.
 
“No iqama (residence permit),” said one man who said he was seeking repatriation to Ethiopia. He said he had arrived in Saudi Arabia illegally a year ago after paying smugglers 5,000 Saudi riyals ($1,333) to make the dangerous trip over the Strait of Hormuz and overland through Yemen.
 
“There's no money at home. Nothing at home,” he said, pulling a suitcase on wheels.
 
Saudi authorities hope to open up private sector jobs to their own citizens by sending illegal workers home. Hundreds of thousands have left in recent months, but several million have corrected their visas and will remain in Saudi Arabia.
 
Many say they could not take advantage of the amnesty due to bureaucratic problems or disputes with their original employers.
 
On Saturday, the Labor Ministry announced it would continue to allow foreign workers to rectify their visas, but only if they paid fines for previous breaches of regulations.
 
More than 9 million of Saudi Arabia's 28 million inhabitants are foreigners.
 
While many of those targeted in the crackdown entered the country legally but later broke the terms of their residence permits by changing jobs, many others were smuggled across the border or came as pilgrims and did not return home.
 
International human rights watchdogs have criticized Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, for their treatment of foreign workers and for instituting a “sponsorship” system which gives employers extensive control over foreign employees.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

Alaskans experiencing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more frequent and extensive wildfires, deteriorating glaciers, and swift shoreline erosion More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs