MAKKAH: ARAB NEWS
Published — Thursday 1 August 2013
Last update 1 August 2013 6:10 am
Procedures to legalize the status of Burmese nationals holding Pakistani, Bangladeshi or other passports living in the Kingdom will commence shortly according to Abdullah Maarouf, secretary general of the Council for the Burmese community.
“They will also be given iqamas valid for four years and will be permitted to transfer their sponsorship without any fees,” he said speaking at a function organized by the council’s reconciliation committee in Taif.
The function was organized to honor 500 imams from the Burmese community for leading taraweeh prayers in various mosques, a local daily reported on Sunday.
The function was held with the approval of Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal at the Al-Salam Hall.
The meeting noted the humanitarian welcome accorded by the Kingdom to the Burmese community who had to flee their country under religious oppression.
The meeting commended the efforts of the Makkah governor’s office to rectify the status of the Burmese community and its achievements in a comparatively short time.
Among the priorities of Prince Khaled after taking over as the governor was to correct the legal status of people living in the unplanned districts of the Holy City.
He raised the issue with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, who ordered to form a ministerial committee to develop unplanned districts and study the situation of the Burmese community.
“The Burmese community will never forget the welcome extended by the rulers and people of the Kingdom to it when it was being oppressed,” Maarouf said.
More than 130,000 Burmese have their status normalized with their receiving of residency free of charge, according to an official statement two weeks ago.
The remaining cases of 120,000 people will be dealt with by the end of the current Hijri year. Close to a quarter of a million Burmese nationals are residing in the Kingdom.
The Ministry of Labor has given special status to Burmese workers by considering four to be equivalent to one expatriate worker in the Nitaqat system.
Maarouf said the Burmese community will soon have a community center with a large hospital and recreational facilities shortly, adding that the headquarters on Lith Road will have facilities including a 500-bed hospital in south Makkah, children’s park and playgrounds.