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: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid