(Arab News) The Saudi government will cover the cost of deporting illegal foreign workers, an official said recently.
“Saudi Arabian Airlines has been entrusted with the task of ensuring flight bookings or, if required, charter additional flights to return illegal workers to their countries,” said Col. Bader Al-Saud, director of media and public relations at the Makkah police department.
Meanwhile, Al-Saud said deportation procedures for illegal expatriates include holding them at the general services center in Al-Shumaisi outside Makkah after their arrest.
He said the center does not admit or deport any foreign worker on its own. The center detains violators arrested by the security agencies. It issues a statement with the details of each detainee received at the facility. The operations are digitized and accurate statistics compiled, Al-Saud said.
“The officials at the center ascertain the nationality of each detainee while officials from foreign consulates keep track of the details of their nationals. The detainees are put up in separate areas according to their nationalities,” he said.
Detainees are given documents showing their biometrics and photographs. These documents are then handed to their consulates, which would then issue exit passes. When travel documents are verified, embarkation permits with air tickets are given to the detainees, Al-Saud said. “If a consulate refuses to issue a travel document to a detainee, he will not be deported. However, there has not been such a case so far,” he said.
The center has provided a special area for consulate representatives to issue travel documents to their citizens. An official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also present to coordinate procedures between the consular officials and the security agencies, he said.
In a related development, Brig. Mansour Al-Turki, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said the Kingdom would not permanently ban any deportees from returning to Saudi Arabia.
He said all illegal workers would have the option to return. “The regulations only stipulate a ban of 10 years,” he said.
Al-Turki said eight planes would deport more than 2,000 Ethiopians on a daily basis to their home country. They would leave the country as soon as the Interior Ministry prepares their documents, he said.
Commenting on the news that some illegal Ethiopians had fled the government-run shelter, Brig. Gen Nasser Al-Qahtani, Riyadh police spokesman, said workers were free to move around. “They are not in detention. All the doors are open for everyone to go out and buy necessities.”