Crackdown in Kuwait: Undocumented Bangladeshis in trouble | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 30, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:16 AM, August 30, 2020

Crackdown in Kuwait: Undocumented Bangladeshis in trouble

Over 20,000 without proper papers can be sent home

Undocumented Bangladeshi workers in Kuwait are at risk of facing deportation, as authorities in the Gulf country have recently decided to launch drive against illegal foreign workers there.

Media reports say the drive will be conducted as the government-announced amnesty programme which ended in April this year failed to bear expected results.

About 26,000 undocumented foreign workers took the benefit of the amnesty to amend their residency permits.

Authorities estimated currently there might be about 75,000 undocumented foreign workers who are in violation of residency permits, added media reports.

Of an estimated 25,000 undocumented Bangladeshi workers, nearly 4,500 workers took the benefit of the amnesty programme.

On Thursday, Kuwait's English-language daily Arab Times reported the country's interior ministry will launch the drive depending on the resumption of the airports in "full capacity".

It is because the authorities want to deport the detainees as soon as they get arrested to avoid crowding them in police stations and detention centres to prevent Covid-19 spread, the report said.

At present, Kuwait is operating commercial flights in and out of the country from August 1, with 30 percent of its airport's normal capacity.

The oil-rich country has plans to fully resume the operation of its airports from August next year, according to Gulf News.

The Arab Times report, citing Arabic-language daily Al-Qabas, said the interior ministry has completed its plan to launch the "unprecedented security campaigns" to arrest residency violators who are in hiding and refused to take the advantage of April's amnesty offered by the ministry.

The report mentioned the 75,000 residency violators are now unable to amend their residency status because they have been in violation for a very long time.

Bangladeshi migrant workers in Kuwait have been facing multi-faceted challenges amid the emerging situation of the Covid-19 fallout.

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, Kuwait asked several labour-sending countries, including Bangladesh, to take back their undocumented workers from the Gulf country.

Kuwait also warned that the countries that will not take back their undocumented workers might not get priority when it starts fresh recruitment of workers.

In July, Kuwait approved a bill that, once passed, may force about two lakh Bangladeshi migrant workers out of the Gulf country.

The bill, submitted by five MPs, calls for an expatriate quota system in Kuwait, one of the major sources of Bangladesh's remittance inflow.

It proposes Bangladeshis must not exceed three percent of Kuwait's total populace, which now stands at about 48 lakh.

Currently, around 3.5 lakh Bangladeshis are employed in different sectors of the oil-rich country.

Once the bill is passed and turns into a law, only about 1.5 lakh Bangladeshis will be allowed to stay there.

Last year, Bangladeshi migrant workers sent more than $1.5 billion in remittance from Kuwait.

Between April 1 and August 26 this year, some 7,549 Bangladeshi migrant workers including 71 female workers returned home from Kuwait, said expatriates' welfare ministry data.

Apart from workers returned under a general amnesty, the returnees also included those who served jail terms in the Gulf country.


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