Bahrain: More than 10,000 ‘illegal’ (undocumented) foreign workers have left Bahrain within the last six months as part of a nationwide amnesty.
The government-initiated amnesty, which ended on Thursday, allowed illegal expatriates a chance to return home or legalise their stay with a new employer without facing penalties for residency offences.
A total of 31,894 acquired legitimate work, while 10,125 returned to their countries, said Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) chief executive Ausamah Al Absi in a statement issued yesterday.Majority of those who took advantage of the amnesty were Bangladeshis, Indians and Pakistanis.
“Around 70 per cent of those who corrected their situation preferred to stay in Bahrain,” said Mr Al Absi.
“The total of those benefiting from the amnesty reached 42,019, which is an unprecedented achievement in comparison to campaigns the LMRA has organised during the past years.
“This step will reflect positively on the performance of the economy of Bahrain, as it will ensure fair competition between businessmen, product quality and the safety of society.”
Since the amnesty was launched in July, the LMRA conducted a nationwide campaign to raise awareness, which included meetings with foreign ambassadors, placing advertisement in Arabic, English and Hindi newspapers as well as collaborating with some embassies to broadcast announcements on their country’s national television channels.
More than 100,000 instruction leaflets in 15 different languages were also distributed to reach as many undocumented workers in the country as possible, which were estimated to be around 61,000 – many of whom either ran away from their employer or overstayed their visas.
More than a million text messages were also sent to expatriates in co-operation with Batelco.
“During our six months, we worked to provide employers willing to take in the workers with all possible facilities,” added Mr Al Absi.
“We gave illegal workers the chance to benefit from the amnesty, whether by choosing to find a new employer and stay in Bahrain or return to their countries.
“An understanding has also been made with the Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Ministry to find a solution for those who have travel bans.
“This was to renew work permits for them to clear their debts.
“This agreement opened humane solutions for thousands of foreign workers who were not able to return to their countries, or even have regular employment.”
He added that the number of workers benefiting from the amnesty could slightly increase.
“The LMRA will accept all applications sent until Thursday midnight and, according to that, figures could slightly increase,” he said.
He also said that all those in violation would face legal action.
“Now that amnesty has ended, the LMRA will take all legal procedures against lawbreakers, with no exceptions made to anyone.” – http://www.gdnonline.com/Details/54304 via migrantion forum of asia (mfa)