MAKKAH: ARAB NEWS
Published — Friday 30 November 2012
Last update 30 November 2012 12:20 am
The Saudi General Directorate of Passports announced the launch of a comprehensive campaign all over the country to look for overstaying pilgrims, who have no intention in returning home.
According to Col. Badr Almalik, directorate spokesman, the number of overstaying pilgrims has recently decreased to a large extent.
Col. Aidh Allogmani also urged citizens and residents to cooperate with directorate officials in reporting the presence of illegal immigrants.
The highest percentage of overstaying pilgrims are Yemini and from countries in Africa, followed by Asians, especially Indonesians and Bangladeshis.
Officials have called for the increased monitoring of the Saudi-Yemeni border, which stretches along more than 1,600 km.
The presence of illegal immigrants is considered an increasing threat in residential areas. Mohammed Alsharif, a resident of Alhusainiya, said that hundreds of illegal immigrants roam around the streets of his district, and families are starting to feel unsafe. Alsharif added that his car was wrecked, and he filed a complaint against an unknown individual.
Security agencies report that illegal immigrants are involved in various violations against Saudi laws such as, alcohol and drug dealing, prostitution, theft, smuggling and violent robbery.
Almalik said the General Directorate of Passports is not responsible for border controls as they have no jurisdiction or authority in stopping illegal immigrants entering the Kingdom from Yemen or any country. They only handle matters within Saudi territory.
According to Almalik, GDP deals with illegal immigrants and expats who fail to renew their iqama (residency permit). He added that an extensive patrolling plan was under way to monitor the presence of illegal immigrants.
Mahmoud Kisnawi, an academic researcher in Um Al-Qura University, said that overstaying usually increases after the completion of Umrah in Ramadan and the Haj season. Therefore, committees from the Ministry of Haj, governorates, the directorate of passport controls, the deportation department and the police all work together to resolve this issue. “A study demonstrates how illegal immigrants are dangerous to society economically, socially and in terms of security. Thus the research team hopes that Saudi officials and society will avail themselves of the recommendations, which aim to solve this chronic issue,” said Kisnawi.