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MOI vows no respite in crackdown on illegals – MoH defends barring expats from morning treatment

KUWAIT: The Ministry of Interior is committed to crack down hard on lawbreakers, particularly those violating residency and labor laws and regulations, a ministry official said yesterday. Anyone who’s been convicted of any civil, criminal or traffic case and has been listed on court documents as an offender and has not abided by a court sentence will be tracked down and be made accountable to the terms of his or her sentence, said Maj Gen Tariq Hamada, director of security at the Capital governorate. This will be partly done through on the spot monitoring of major roads and thoroughfares as well as residential neighborhoods and marketplaces and anywhere undocumented unemployed workers hang out, he said, noting that a large number of these workers have become a security risk in residential areas. As a result of such monitoring within the nation’s six governorates, 4,072 expat lawbreakers were arrested, he said, explaining that some of them had absconded from their places of employment and were mostly domestic servants, others had violated their residency status, and still others had no identification documents on them at the time of being stopped for questioning.

Some of the expat lawbreakers were brought in on charges of prostitution, peddling liquor and drugs and weapons, he said, while others were charged with panhandling, vending foodstuff on roadsides without a license or working in jobs they were not licensed for, among other charges. Hamada advised all expats to carry their personal identification with them all the time to show at traffic checkpoints or routine police checks around town. They should also carry car documentation papers with them as well, he cautioned, stressing that anyone who flees from a police checkpoint will be arrested when tracked down eventually. He also cautioned against imposters who pass themselves off as undercover security and use this guise to rob innocent people of their valuables. He said that the public should be aware of anyone claiming to be an undercover agent who asks for money or for people to get out their cars or threatens violence.

Separately, the Health Ministry said yesterday that barring foreigners from attending public hospitals in the mornings was aimed at resolving the problem of “overcrowding” at such health facilities. Since Sunday, the health ministry began implementing the measure, described by activists as racist, at the public hospital in Jahra on an experimental basis for six months. If successful, it will be expanded to other public hospitals as per a decision issued last month by Health Minister Mohammad Al-Haifi, who is a well-known surgeon. As per the measure, foreign residents will be able to receive treatment at the outpatient clinics of public hospitals in the evenings only. The measure “is intended to ease overcrowding at clinics” where the number of patients has been increasing rapidly, the health ministry said in a statement. It cited the health minister as stressing that the ministry will continue to provide “the best health care for citizens and expatriates,” adding that hospitals will provide all other medical services and emergencies to all citizens and residents at all times.

The minister also said that a new 1,100-bed hospital under construction will be completed in the near future to solve the overcrowding problem. “Kuwait is a multicultural society that brings people from all over the world and provides them with the best healthcare,” said Haifi. The decision was taken following complaints in the pro-government parliament that Kuwaiti patients have to wait for long at public health facilities because of the large number of expatriates. Kuwait is home to 2.6 million foreigners, mostly from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Egypt and Syria, and 1.2 million native Kuwaitis. Kuwait provides free medical services to citizens but expats must pay an annual fee of KD 50 each besides paying reduced charges for certain procedures like x-rays. Similar restrictions are in place at other government agencies such as the traffic department, which handles applications from expats only in the evening. Kuwait has also over the past two months deported hundreds of expatriates for traffic offences.

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This article was published on 05/06/2013