Saudi migrant exodus violence claims lives

Published November 10th, 2013 - 08:06 GMT
Foreign workers show passports as they wait outside the immigration office in Saudi. [yahoo]
Foreign workers show passports as they wait outside the immigration office in Saudi. [yahoo]

During a large scale crackdown on illegal expatriates, two people have been killed in clashes in Saudi Arabia, police said on Sunday.

Police said they intervened in the fighting on Saturday. Conflict was rising in the Manfuhah neighborhood of Riyadh after foreigners rioted attacking Saudi and other foreign residents with rocks and knives.

In a statement carried out by the SPA state news, police reported that one Saudi and another person, whose nationality and identity remains unknown, were killed.

Overall, 561 people were arrested. Another 68 people were injured, 28 Saudis and 40 foreigners.

The majority of residents of the Manfuhah district are migrants from East Africa.  

On reports that one of the people killed was Ethiopian, the Ethiopian government said on Saturday it was repatriating citizens who hadn’t met the deadline after the seven-month amnesty expired.

"They were trying to get them in the camp before repatriation and in that process... an Ethiopian has been killed with a police bullet, but we are verifying it," foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti told AFP in Addis Ababa.

In efforts to lessen the violence, illegal migrants in Manfuhah have been given the chance to come forward and accommodation has been made available while their repatriation is arranged, stated Saudi police.

The categories in which illegal workers fall under varies in Saudi. Some have simply overstayed their tourist visas or are pilgrims seeking jobs. Others are shop assistants and day laborers working for someone other than their sponsor.

Official sponsorship is a requirement in Saudi Arabia and most other Gulf states.

Nearly a million migrants spanning a mix of countries from Bangladesh, Philippines, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Yemen among them took the opportunity during the amnesty to leave.

Freelance labor has taken a sharp fall as many illegal workers were able to find employees to hire them in sponsored job however; doing so virtually emptied the market of cheap labor.

Expatriates account for almost one third of the Saudi kingdom's population of 27 million.

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