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Battling the odds Ombudsman acts on complaint of stranded expats

Battling the odds: Ombudsman acts on complaint of stranded expats

ISLAMABAD: The federal ombudsman has directed the foreign affairs ministry to immediately set up a cell at the Pakistan Embassy in Riyadh for easing the troubles of thousands of unpaid Pakistani expatriates in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province.

Over 8,000 Pakistani migrant workers employed by two Saudi companies, Saad Trading and Contracting Company in Al Khobar and Saudi Oger Ltd in Dammam, have not been paid for at least 16 months and neither have their residence permits (Iqamas) and health insurance been renewed by the two firms.

In desperation, the stranded expats approached the federal ombudsman.

Acting on a written complaint of the stranded workers, Federal Ombudsman Salman Farooqui directed Grievance Commissioner for Overseas Pakistanis Hafiz Ahsaan Ahmad Khokhar to seek a response from the Foreign Office.

Khokhar told The Express Tribune that Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry has been asked to establish the complaint cell to resolve the problems of the expats.

The commissioner said he has also issued a notice to Foreign Office for a hearing on August 15.

The stranded workers say that though their employers keep telling them that their salaries will be released, but they haven’t done so.

The companies that hired the workers were responsible for the renewal of their Iqamas. But for some inexplicable reason they have chosen to delay the matter. Under Saudi Arabia’s laws, no foreign worker can stay without a valid Iqama.

Already, Saudi police have hauled away some of those workers, harassed them and treated them like criminals, the text of the complaint filed by the expats said.

Courtesy : Express Tribune



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