(AsiaNews) - Illegal migrant workers from Nepal will have until July 3rd to
leave Saudi Arabia. It
is expected that about 120 thousand Nepalese will be forced to return home as a
result of the ultimatum issued on May 10 by the authorities in Riyadh. The Nepalese
government is attempting to negotiate terms for their expulsion.
From Kathmandu, the Foreign Minister, Arjun Karki, calls the situation 'worrying' and has stated that "the Nepalese authorities are trying to persuade the Saudi government to reconsider the position of migrants." The sudden return home of 120 thousand workers to the kingdom, would risk plunging the Himalayan country into an abyss of hunger and poverty. Binod KC, director general of the Department of Foreign Employment in Nepal, explained that "it is a serious problem and that it is unrealistic to think that this huge labor force can be absorbed by the local industry."
According to some experts a surplus workforce would drag Nepal into a severe economic and social crisis, when you consider the total dependence of many families from the monthly financial contributions from migrant workers. At the moment, there are more than 400 thousand migrant workers spread out among Malaysia, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
In Saudi Arabia, two of the nine million immigrants are believed to be illegal. In June 2011, the Minister of Labor in Riyadh launched a campaign of 'Saudization' of the country to facilitate the recruitment of young Arabs, replacing a small percentage of the foreign workforce. Even Qatar, next to Malaysia for the large presence of Nepalese immigrants, has implemented a strict policy against illegal workers, arresting them and sending them to forced labor camps.