News / Middle East

    Saudi Deportation Policies Impact Yemen

    Protesters outside the Saudi embassy in Sana'a April 2, 2013 object to treatment of Yemenis in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is deporting thousands of Yemeni laborers during a crackdown on undocumented workers. Remittances bring in $2 billion a year to Yemen Protesters outside the Saudi embassy in Sana'a April 2, 2013 object to treatment of Yemenis in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is deporting thousands of Yemeni laborers during a crackdown on undocumented workers. Remittances bring in $2 billion a year to Yemen
    x
    Protesters outside the Saudi embassy in Sana'a April 2, 2013 object to treatment of Yemenis in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is deporting thousands of Yemeni laborers during a crackdown on undocumented workers. Remittances bring in $2 billion a year to Yemen
    Protesters outside the Saudi embassy in Sana'a April 2, 2013 object to treatment of Yemenis in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is deporting thousands of Yemeni laborers during a crackdown on undocumented workers. Remittances bring in $2 billion a year to Yemen
    David Arnold
    Yemen, the poorest and least-developed country in the Arab world, is facing yet another major crisis.  A recent crackdown in Saudi Arabia against illegal foreign workers has led to the massive deportation of Yemeni workers back to their impoverished country, already wracked by insurgency and an al-Qaida threat that has destabilized large parts of the nation. 
     
    Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis could be expelled as a result of the campaign, which began in March with a door-to-door search for illegal workers by Saudi authorities.  The campaign is designed to reduce a workforce of 7 to 9 million foreigners in Saudi Arabia, and it comes as the Kingdom tries to re-invigorate a campaign to entice more Saudis to go to work.
     
    “Obviously, this has led to the firing of many foreign laborers,” said Marco Chimenton of the International Office for Migration (IOM) in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. He said the government of Yemen estimates that a total of about 700,000 Yemenis have lost work in the crackdown because they lacked proper visas or work permits. About 200,000 Yemenis have already been deported.
     
    Regional experts say the campaign started slowly but is expected to accelerate soon.
     
    “There was a grace period, lots of news advertising, checkpoints and threats to raid places of business for people who didn’t have residency permits or who were working under the table or not working for their official sponsor,” said Adam Coogle of Human Rights Watch in Amman.
     
    “There were a couple of days in Jeddah when nobody showed up for work because everybody was terrified about labor raids,” he said.
     
    The Saudi government decided to slow the process while King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz announced the first of two grace periods to give foreign workers time to correct their papers or leave the country. The next deadline is November 3.
     
    Returning to Yemen
     
    Saudi authorities defend the latest moves against illegal or undocumented foreign workers, noting that 35 percent of young people are unemployed and 1.8 million Saudis receive unemployment benefits.  There also have been disturbing reports, fueled by Twitter, of attacks by housemaids from Ethiopia and Indonesia that have reportedly generated a Saudi backlash against migrants. 
     
    Ahmed F. Al Fahaid, the Ministry of Labor’s deputy minister for international affairs, said Saudi Arabia also is trying to regularize work standards and requirements with countries who supply migrants.  He said such an agreement was recently signed with the Philippines and similar agreements are being negotiated with other countries. 
     
    “The issue with Yemenis in Saudi Arabia is a little bit different,” said Coogle of Human Rights Watch. Thousands of Saudis are of Yemeni descent and many in the Yemeni workforce have been moving back and forth across their common borders to find work since the Kingdom was founded.  “When they first came, the Yemenis were needed to build roads and infrastructure.”
     
    “The problem right now is mainly caused by the turn of the screw on foreign laborers that has happened in early March of this year by the Saudi government,” said Chimenton.
     
    He said government and IOM teams are headed to the border to assess the needs of the growing number of migrants returning to Yemen, but he says there are inadequate resources to meet their needs.  
     
    Chimenton said Saudi buses loaded with Yemenis under Ministry of Interior guard continue to bring Yemenis to the border.
     
    “They’ve been doing it during the first reprieve and their doing it now,” he said. “Some of them reportedly have not had time to go home before they are deported and come without their possessions. They have had no food or water for a long time .”
     
    The buses arrive sporadically with no coordination with Yemeni authorities and as many as 1,000 people have been dumped on the border at a time.
     
    “Everyone is expecting the numbers to pick up now,” Chimenton said.
     
    Despite protests, many leaving
     
    The Saudi initiative has sparked protests in Riyadh and abroad. In April, Yemenis protested in front of Saudi embassy in Sana’a and about 700 Philippine nationals sought refuge from the crackdown in the compound of the Republic of the Philippines consulate in Jeddah.
     
    The Saudi government said that about 200,000 illegal migrant workers voluntary left Saudi Arabia and another 1.5 million corrected their situation by changing their employment status from illegal to legal through their embassies, or by returning home to reapply for new visas.
     
    Saudi authorities say foreign workers will continue to play a large role in their country’s workforce, but that all workers should be legal and be regulated. 
     
    “Saudi Arabia is becoming a big hub for foreign workers,” said Al Fahaid. He estimates the foreign work force sends home about $30 billion a year. But an adviser to Yemen’s foreign minister estimates that the loss of remittances from the expelled Yemenis will be about $2 billion a year  -- a loss which will be felt by nearly all Yemenis.

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese Americans for Trump Going Against National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese Americans for Trump Going Against National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora