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6,000 illegal residents deported in 6 months – Jails getting overcrowded

KUWAIT: Nearly 6,000 people were deported over the past six months of crackdowns on illegal residents in Kuwait, a local daily reported yesterday, quoting Interior Ministry statistics as of June 23. According to a source, who agreed to provide the statistics to Al-Qabas on the condition of not being named in the report, as many as 25,000 expatriates were arrested during security campaigns carried out since the beginning of the year across Kuwait.

The source said around 15,000 people were later released after their employers submitted documents to prove that the workers were living legally in Kuwait. In other cases, workers whose visas had recently expired were released after their employers gave assurances to renew their visas immediately.

The source also revealed that some employers were required to sign undertakings that they would not to allow their employees to work in other firms before the workers were officially released.

In addition to people with expired visas, the continuing crackdowns are targeting expatriate laborers reported missing by their employers, as well as people holding Article 20 visas (for domestic helpers) but working in private firms, for which visas are issued under Article 18 of the labor law. However, the source stated, such security campaigns could be put on hold until further notice, with jails getting “overcrowded with detainees.”

The source indicated that nearly a thousand employers were blacklisted for allowing domestic workers to work for others. Furthermore, he said cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs resulted in the blacklisting of nearly 500 companies found guilty of visa trafficking.

The source also indicated that Kuwait Airways is currently the only airline used to transport deportees. A maximum of five deportees per flight are allowed, he added, in order to avoid trouble inside the airplane.

Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Thekra Al- Rashidi had announced in March the government’s intention to deport 100,000 foreigners this year, as part of a plan to reduce the expatriate population in Kuwait by one million within a decade.

The Interior Ministry never confirmed that the ongoing crackdowns on illegal residents were part of the deportation plan. In response to criticism from rights groups inside and outside Kuwait, Al-Rashidi later identified “marginal labor forces” as the target of the plan.

Kuwait is home to 2.6 million expatriates, who make up 68 percent of the country’s 3.8 million population.

Nearly 90,000 of them live illegally in the country, according to official numbers.

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This article was published on 25/06/2013