Over 730,000 illegal expats deported in 17 months

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Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH —
As many as 730,873 foreigners living in the Kingdom in violation of the residency and labor regulations were deported from the country during the past 17 months, press reports said on Saturday quoting officials.

Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry launched the ongoing nationwide crackdown against illegal residents on Nov. 15, 2017, with the help of

19 government departments including the Directorate General of Passports and the Ministry of Labor and Social Development.

The campaign officials said a total of 2,903,531 expatriates were arrested for violating the system of residency, labor regulations and border security.

They said as many as 394,392 violators were referred to their concerned embassies and consulates to issue them with travel documents and 492,878 were completing the travel procedures.

According to the officials, 11,197 violators are currently held in various detention centers across the Kingdom. They consisted of 9,569 men and 1,628 women.

According to the officials, as many as 3,586 people were caught providing accommodation and transportation to the illegal expatiates. They included 1,199 Saudis, of whom 1,148 were investigated, punished and released while 51 were still being probed.

Saudi officials claimed earlier that the Interior Ministry›s security campaign called «A Nation Free of Illegals» to flush out all illegal residents from Saudi Arabia achieved its objectives with the coordinated efforts of more than a dozen government agencies.

The ministry launched the campaign on March 29, 2017, with an initial 90-day grace period, which was extended several times, for all visa overstayers and violators of residency and labor laws to leave the country without incurring any penalties.

The Passport Department and several foreign diplomatic missions opened facilitation centers in various parts of the country to help expatriates wishing to leave the Kingdom on their own to complete the procedures.

Saudi authorities estimated that more than 600,000 people benefited from the amnesty in the first four months. But hundreds of thousands of others remained, either determined to stay back unheedful of the consequences or unable to avail themselves of the amnesty offer.

When the grace period finally ended on Nov. 14, 2017, the ministry started the long promised crackdown on illegal residents who still remained in the country.

The coordinated campaign also targeted anyone, including Saudis and legal expatriates, who offered any kind of aid to undocumented foreigners.

About 12 million of a total of over 32 million people living in Saudi Arabia are foreigners, most of them unskilled workers from Asia and Africa working in the construction and service sectors, according to official figures.


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