Hundreds of illegal Afghan workers being sent home

Hundreds of illegal Afghan workers being sent home
Updated 22 November 2013

Hundreds of illegal Afghan workers being sent home

Hundreds of illegal Afghan workers being sent home

The government is preparing to deport hundreds of illegal Afghan workers who surrendered voluntarily to avoid arrest and hefty fines for fellow nationals who had employed them.
After an anxious wait of over 10 days, hundreds of Afghan workers were moved to the deportation center in Makkah.
Khalil-ur-Rahman Hanani, the Afghanistan consul general, told Arab News that 500 workers, including women and children, were transported in 10 buses to the center.
“The consulate is coordinating with the Saudi authorities to move the remaining stranded Afghan workers to the deportation center,” he said.
Hanani said the consulate moved 350 violators last week. There was a delay because of the slow processing of workers at the center, he said.
He said Afghan President Hamid Karzai was paying special attention to the repatriation of workers who had failed to rectify their status in Saudi Arabia. An Afghan ministerial delegation recently visited the Kingdom to deal with this issue.
Most of the workers living in the Western Province hail from the northern Afghanistan province of Baghlan, which is known for its traders. Many Afghans in the tightly knit ethnic community run small businesses such as restaurants and shops selling footwear and mattresses.
Bandar Abu Najla, a Saudi citizen, told Arab News: “I’ve been eating Bukhari food for over three decades. I’ve never come across Saudis or other foreigners working in Bukhari restaurants.” He said only Afghans can cook “delicious” Bukhari food.
Afghan expatriates do not want to pose problems for their fellow nationals by staying illegally in the country now that the grace period has ended and employers face hefty fines.
Abdullah Nader, a young Afghan, told Arab News: “My boss (an Afghan) tried his best to regularize my job status but failed. It’s not right to work for him now and cause problems if I’m arrested. So I decided to leave.”
Nader’s sentiments were echoed by several other Afghans camping at the Afghanistan Consulate in Andalus district. The narrow streets leading to the consulate is crowded these days with Afghans seeking to leave the Kingdom.
Most of them are camping out in open ground opposite the Jordanian consulate in the area. Some were sleeping in front of houses in Turki bin Abdulaziz Street.
A significant number of Afghan expatriates from Madinah, Makkah and Taif have also started arriving in the area with their luggage. The Afghan community in Jeddah has come to the rescue of these undocumented compatriots by providing them with three meals a day and money for expenses.
The decades-long war in Afghanistan had forced many to move abroad. An estimated 500,000 Afghans live in the Kingdom, many having overstayed their Umrah or Haj visas.