Embassies supporting Bahrain on illegal worker crackdown
Approximately 50,000 illegal workers are supposedly employed in Bahrain (Courtesy of Asia News International)
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Embassies in Bahrain have pledged to help the government crackdown on illegal workers after new figures showed they have reached nearly 50,000, a report said.
A new wave of inspections is being launched by the Labour Ministry in co-ordination with the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) to deport anyone without proper paperwork, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
Bahrain is also working with countries where expatriates traditionally come from to tighten procedures before they travel and prevent them from being exploited by intermediaries.
Authorities say most of the country's illegal residents are from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Indian Embassy labour and community welfare first secretary Ram Singh agreed that systemic failures were the cause of the problem.
"We have to look into how people become illegal here because no-one can come illegally, you have to come with a visa," he said.
"We are trying to follow up this kind of problem with the help of the Labour Ministry. This is a problem for the sending country as well as the receiving country so we will be happy to provide any help the Labour Ministry asks us to provide."
Bangladeshi Ambassador Mohammed Ali Akbar said illegal expatriate workers were a major problem for both Bangladesh and Bahrain.
"I am of the view that illegal workers have become the victims of circumstances which has evolved through various factors related to manpower recruitment process," he said.
"Major problem makers are unscrupulous mediators supported by imprudent senders and recruiters. However, the workers themselves are also responsible for their predicament owing to their ignorance and lack of understanding and cautiousness.
"We truly want to get rid of this menace, we are fully committed to providing the Bahraini authorities, particularly the LMRA and immigration, with our sincere support and co-operation,” he added.
Government officials could not be reached for comment.
Pakistan Embassy labour attaché Maqsood Qadir Shah said officials had not yet been approached by the Labour Ministry, but the embassy was ready to discuss the issue.
"This is a common issue here, not only with Pakistani nationals," he said.
"Foreign nationals are the main contributors to the development of Bahrain, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Filipinos. We always encourage that every worker should come the legal way, but still a few loopholes exist - though this is not from our side, this is in their system."
Shah questioned the "free visa" concept whereby a worker pays for their visa through a middleman and never actually meets or works for their sponsor.
"There are many people who are here working without direct sponsorship," he said.
"They are a problem even for us because when they land over here they don't have a job.
"When you are sitting in Pakistan or India you are thinking you come to Bahrain and you will immediately be earning a good amount. This is not 100 per cent that everyone can get a job. I disagree with this sort of practice,” he added.
Meanwhile, Bahrain has deported 756 illegal workers this year, the report said.
The Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs carried out 43 campaigns that led to the arrest of 238 violators, while 89 joint campaigns organised in co-operation with the Labour Market Regulatory Authority resulted in the detention of the others.
The expatriates were arrested between January and November 7.
Officials said a recent inspection campaign also led to the arrest of 42 violators, who are facing legal action and potential deportation.
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