UAE amnesty to help many expatriate Keralites


Two-month pardon for undocumented residents

The number of Keralites who are going to benefit from the two-month pardon announced by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to undocumented residents in that country is in the realm of conjecture as neither the authorities in the State nor the associations representing expatriate Malayalis in the UAE can have any figure indicating the number of undocumented immigrants from the State staying in the Gulf country.

The amnesty for those who have overstayed their visas in the UAE, however, is expected to help a number of Malayali expatriates living in that country as undocumented immigrants.

If past experiences are anything to go by, most of those people hailing from the State as elsewhere are victims of unscrupulous recruiting agents, according to people associated with organisations of expatriate Keralites in the UAE.

When contacted, Rural Development and Non-Resident Keralite Affairs Minister K.C. Joseph told The Hindu that the State government did not have any data that could indicate the number of Malayali immigrants residing in the UAE without visa. He said that most of these people reached the Gulf countries through unauthorised channels leaving no record of their whereabouts and their employers. The Minister had announced a couple of days ago that the government would offer financial assistance to Malayali immigrants imprisoned in the Gulf countries.

The undocumented immigrants include people who overstay their work and visit visas and those who flee from their employers without collecting their passports often to escape pathetic working condition and low salaries.

No clear picture

Though the Gulf countries announce such periods of amnesty periodically, some people may still not want to avail themselves of the pardon and return to the State, according to representatives of the organisations of expatriate Malayalis.

Abdul Khader Panakkat, president of the Dubai-based Welfare Association of Kannur District Expatriates (WAKE), said over the phone that it was early days to get a picture of the exact number of undocumented residents from the State who would approach the UAE authorities to get out-pass under the two-month general pardon.

The associations of Malayali expatriates in that country as well as the Indian Embassy and Consulate authorities could get a clearer idea in a couple of weeks when the undocumented immigrants started to approach them for getting services and even financial assistance, including air ticket, he added.

Source: The Hindu