24 Nov 2013

Saudi round-up of undocumented foreign workers

8:43 am on 24 November 2013

The ramifications of a crackdown on undocumented foreign workers in Saudi Arabia two weeks ago is still being felt.

Saudi officials have been detaining and deporting tens of thousands of workers who don't have the proper documentation to remain in the kingdom.

The kingdom's economy has long been reliant on low-paid labourers from countries such as India and the Philippines, but a rising jobless rate among Saudi citizens has prompted the crackdown.

Radio Australia reports an estimated nine million overseas workers in the Kingdom, from countries such as India, Pakistan and the Philippines, doing everything from construction to domestic work.

Around 10% of the foreign workforce in Saudi Arabia is believe to be living there illegally.

The Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust in the United Arab Emirates, says many undocumented foreign nationals came on pilgrimage and stayed to work.

Rising unemployment among Saudis prompted the government to announce an amnesty earlier this year for undocumented workers to get their papers in order or leave.

Earlier this month, that amnesty ended.

Migrante, a Filipino migrant organisation, says there are thousands of workers in Saudi Arabia wanting to return to the Philippines but who are not receiving adequate help. Philippines officials in Saudi Arabia are not listening to their demands.