Runaway Lankan maids worry Labor Ministry

Updated 27 June 2015
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Runaway Lankan maids worry Labor Ministry

RIYADH: Labor Minister Mufrej Al-Haqabani has asked the Sri Lankan government to stop maids running away from their Saudi sponsors soon after their arrival in the Kingdom.

Al-Haqbani told Sri Lankan Ambassador Mohamed Hussein Mohamed that several maids have run away after spending barely three months in the country. This was costing each affected Saudi sponsor SR25,000, he said.
The minister said that while this was only a small fraction of the Sri Lankan maids in the Kingdom, the situation had to be nipped in the bud. There are about 400,000 Lankan housemaids in the Kingdom.
The minister also complained that some maids were arriving pregnant in the Kingdom with false medical reports. In addition, he asked the Sri Lankan government to reduce the recruitment costs for housemaids.
Responding to the minister’s concerns, the Sri Lankan envoy said that the Association of Licensed Foreign Agencies has already decided to reduce the recruitment charges to SR12,000, which would be discussed at the next bilateral meeting in Colombo after Ramadan.
Mohamed said that maids obtain medical certificates six months ahead of their travel dates and become pregnant during the waiting period in Sri Lanka. He promised that arrangements would be made to deal with this situation.
To prevent maids from running away, he said that the Sri Lankan government has organized an intensive orientation program for those seeking work in Saudi Arabia. “This will put a stop to this problem because it prepares housemaids mentally to work in the Saudi environment, which is alien to them.”
According to a pact between the Kingdom and Sri Lanka, the parties have agreed to review the labor agreement once every six months. The next meeting would be in Colombo in July, he said.
The accord, which protects employers and employees, allows workers to keep possession of their passports, and have salaries paid into their bank accounts. “Under the pact, domestic workers can be assured of a safer, more decent and problem-free working environment,” Mohamed said.
The labor agreement covers 12 categories of domestic workers including housemaids, drivers, cleaners, and waiters employed by individuals. It also stipulates that contracts should be in a language understood by the worker.
Ahmed Al-Fehaid, undersecretary for international affairs, was also present during the discussions.


Yemen FM: No peace before Houthi disarmament

The Arab coalition is striving to rebuild the humanity destroyed by the Houthis, says Yemen’s Foreign Minister Khalid Al-Yamani. File/Getty Images
Updated 26 May 2018
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Yemen FM: No peace before Houthi disarmament

  • Alongside military operations, the coalition is undertaking humanitarian work to “rebuild the humanity destroyed by the Houthis
  • The Houthis’ “weapons and missiles must be handed over, and there is no room for dialogue or negotiation about them

LONDON: There cannot be peace in Yemen unless Houthi militias abandon their arms, said the country’s newly appointed Foreign Minister Khalid Al-Yamani.

The internationally recognized government will not allow Iran, which backs the Houthis, to maintain a foothold in Yemen or interfere in its internal affairs, he added.
“This terrorist regime” in Tehran, “which supplies terrorist militias all over the world, is close to collapse as a result of international and popular pressure by the Iranian people, who are suffering as their terrorist state spends billions here and there for a foolish expansionist idea,” Al-Yamani said.
“The modern and civilized world that respects international law cannot accept the existence of a state sponsor of terrorism and all subversive and terrorist militias in the region,” he added.
“If Iran wants to be part of the social, cultural and political fabric of our region, it must rationalize its behavior.” Its “terrorist behavior… encourages the spread of violence in the region,” he said.
Al-Yamani added that he will start his tenure as foreign minister by focusing on negotiations and the efforts of the UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths.
The government is working round the clock with the envoy’s office so he can present his ideas on June 7 after consultations with the government, Al-Yamani said.
There will be meetings in the next few days with Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and a special meeting with the negotiating team, all within the framework of the envoy’s efforts in the region, Al-Yamani added.
Griffiths has visited several countries in the region, and has met with Yemen’s government and the leadership of the Saudi-led Arab coalition.
The Houthis “suggest that political arrangements should come before security and military arrangements,” said Al-Yamani.
But “the coup against the state in January 2015 came as a result of the preference of political over security arrangements,” he added.
“And after the Houthis achieved their goals, they turned against the national consensus reflected in the peace and partnership agreement, under which the president provided facilities to save the homeland from the fate we have reached today,” Al-Yamani said.
“We cannot talk about any political arrangements because we consider them to be a foregone conclusion if we achieve the withdrawal and delivery of heavy and medium weapons and missiles,” he added. “We cannot retry something we tried before... The coup must end.”
The Houthis’ “weapons and missiles must be handed over, and there is no room for dialogue or negotiation about them,” he said. “Heavy and medium weapons should be handed over, and those militias must be withdrawn.”
Al-Yamani criticized Iran’s ambassador to the UN for speaking in dovish language while his country causes destruction in Yemen.
“Most of what we have been able to remove of the mines planted by the Houthis had the trademark of Iranian industry,” Al-Yamani said.
“Even if we achieve peace today, we will need decades to demine... There will be no possibility of safe living in the areas where mines were planted.”
Al-Yamani expressed the gratitude of his government and people for the Saudi-led coalition’s support for the government to achieve security and peace in Yemen and the whole region.
Alongside military operations, the coalition is undertaking humanitarian work to “rebuild the humanity destroyed by the Houthis, rebuild the Yemeni psyche destroyed by the war, distribute goods throughout Yemen, and reconstruct what was destroyed by the Houthi war machine,” he said.
“All this confirms that the project of restoring the state… is the project of life,” which is “opposed to the project of death brought by Iran and its Houthi militias to Yemen,” he added.
This interview is simultaneously published in Asharq Al-Awsat.