At least 30 Filipino expatriate workers were arrested in a round-up in Saudi Arabia Tuesday. Migrante, the Filipino migrant rights group announced the arrests after Saudi Arabia launched a crack down on illegal immigrants in the country.
“Saudi authorities heightened crackdown on undocumented migrants that started last week nabbed at least 30 OFWs as per the initial combined reports we have received so far from our affiliates in the Kingdom,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante regional coordinator in Middle East.
“The common notion that illegal migrants were the very reason why crime rate escalates in the Kingdom is fairly objectionable. Most of the so called illegal migrants were actually victim of abuses, maltreatment and labor rights violations who were forced to abscond,” Monterona said in a statement.
Just last month, Saudi’s Ministry of Interior reported that the country will crackdown on illegal expatriates – saying they are to blame for the rash of crimes within the oil rich Kingdom.
“Those who were nabbed included mostly Asian migrant workers without resident permits, those working in jobs not matching with their work permit, and others working with another employer who were not their sponsors,” Monterona said.
Police have stepped up presence, creating check-point inspections and raiding homes where suspected immigrants are housed and kept out of the view of others.
Filipino migrant rights group ‘Migrante’ urged the Philippines to provide assistance to the undocumented OFWs – Migrante now says they are languishing in Saudi jails.
“We would like to remind the Aquino government that there are 200 plus distressed Filipino women in Bahay Kalinga in Riyadh, while about 80 male in a shelter rented by the PH embassy most of them have been there for at least 3 months to 1 year,” Monterona said.
Monterona a assailed President Benigno Aquino III for not giving “swift and free mass repatriation of the distressed and stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabia.”