Saudi Arabia: migrants surrender but country wonders

After crackdown on illegal migrants, companies and stores closed

11 November, 16:28

    Migrants in Riad Migrants in Riad

    (by Alessandra Antonelli) (ANSAmed) - DUBAI - Garbage collectors in Riyadh and Jeddah have returned to work after a two-day-long strike against a government crackdown on illegal immigrants.

    During the walkout, clashes were reported across the capital.

    Two people, including a Saudi, died and another 68 were injured in the violence. Over 560 people were arrested and more than 100 cars burned.

    The whole incident has left Saudi Arabia wondering about the causes of what is happening and its economic impact.

    The violent protests which kicked off Saturday in Manfouah, a neighbourhood in the capital with a numerous Ethiopian community, were sparked on November 4 by the government's decision to take measures against workers whose papers did not respect labour laws in the oil kingdom.

    Hundreds of inspections were carried out across the country in stores and industrial sites to discover thousands of illegal workers. Local press reports said almost 20,000 people have been arrested in the operation.

    Hundreds are in a centre in Riyadh ready to be repatriated while about one million people - from Bangladesh, the Philippines, India, Pakistan and Yemen - who were working illegally in the country have taken advantage of an amnesty seven months ago to return to their home countries.

    While the majority of Saudi opinion makers have openly sided with the government, saying that inspections must continue because there is a 'red line' on security which was crossed at the weekend, the entrepreneurial world has grounded to a halt.

    About 50% of construction firms registered with the Saudi chamber of commerce have stopped working, an estimated 100,000 according to the newspaper Arab News. Many stores employing illegal staff decided to close. Given the insufficient number of regular workers, there is no bread, water nor a number of services in some areas.

    Garbage cleaners went on strike because the employment company that took them to the country never provided them with legal documents, as occurred to thousands of other workers.

    In a country which has very strict laws regulating access, also as far as tourists are concerned, many migrants have used the pilgrimage to the Makkah, a duty for every Muslim to get into the country and stay.

    The chaos registered in the country is not due to illegal immigration per se, according to the Saudi Gazette, but to the companies and individuals who exploited migrants, letting them live in a grey area, and to institutions unable to regulate and stop human trafficking and speculation. (ANSAmed).

    © Copyright ANSA - All rights reserved

    Business opportunities

    The information system of business
    opportunities abroad

    News from Mediterranean