As reported in Arabian newspapers on Monday, Labor Minister Adel Fakeih has announced that “undocumented foreign workers can leave Saudi Arabia on exit-only visas without being penalized.”
The amnesty program will purge the employment market in the oil-rich Kingdom from about 1 million undocumented workers, Adel Fakeih said in media reports.
“We believe that it would increase the chances of Saudi men and women getting more jobs,” the labor minister said in referring to the new Saudization policy.
Expressing his elation to this development, Filipino migrants rights leader John Leonard Monterona thanked the Saudi government for the “humanitarian act.”
“We welcome the announcement of Labor Minister Adel Fakieh in granting amnesty to all undocumented migrant workers in the Kingdom. It will give our fellow expatriates chance to reunite with their loved ones after years of being away from their respective families.”
“Regardless of nationality, Filipinos or not, they share the same struggles –that of being undocumented and it’s not that easy being ‘illegals’. They are prone to all types of abuses. In fact, most of the undocumented were run away being victim of human rights and labor rights violations,” said Monterona, regional coordinator of Migrante-Middle East.
The OFW leader then called on all undocumented OFWs to enlist at PH embassy in Riyadh and consulate in Jeddah.
“As of now, we have monitored little more than 7,000 undocumented OFWs who have enlisted themselves to the PH consulate in Jeddah requesting for repatriation since last year.”
Monterona also asked the Philippine embassy in Riyadh to seek guidance on this amnesty announcement from the Labor minister. Filipinos are the third largest migrant community in Saudi.
“The guidelines will help our fellow undocumented OFWs getting out of Saudi Arabia without much hassle and without being penalized. The PH embassy must conduct an information dissemination campaign regarding this.”
“This development should reach to around 26,000 to 30,000 undocumented Filipino workers in the Kingdom mostly household service workers and construction workers.”
There are about 8-M migrant workers in Saudi Arabia, in which 1.2-M are Filipinos.