Massive Saudi crackdown on illegal workers Lankans among 350,000 foreigners held

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By 2018-01-13

By Leon Berenger

An undisclosed number of Sri Lankan workers have been arrested along with 350,000 other foreigners in a massive Saudi crackdown on undocumented workers in that oil rich desert kingdom, the Lankan Mission in Riyadh said on 11 January.

"Some arrests of Lankan workers have been reported and we are working on the matter and a report will be submitted to Colombo at the earliest," the Embassy said in an electronic mail response to a Ceylon Today query.

Head of the Consular Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombo Sudantha Ganegama said that the embassy in Riyadh was yet to file a report on the matter and therefore ,that he was unable to provide any details. However, he added that the arrest of undocumented Sri Lankan workers in several West Asian countries is a common occurrence and the present Saudi crackdown does not come as a surprise. A senior official with the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) said that he was unable to comment on the matter since there has been no update on the matter from the Lankan Mission in Riyadh. The Saudi authorities made up of the Police and the Immigration and Border Control have since 15 November last year launched the crackdown aimed at ridding the kingdom of illegal workers.

According to the reports, the crackdown is mainly aimed at Yemeni and Ethiopian nationals whom together make up some 98 per cent of those who have been arrested so far.

The campaign dubbed 'Nation without Violators' is aimed at ridding the country of such elements at the very earliest. Local officials also blame much of the crime committed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on these undocumented workers' according to foreign media reports.

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