Dipu Moni hopeful for Saudi amnesty extension as expatriates dismayed over consulate inefficiency

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Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni is hopeful that the amnesty granted by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah will be extended for a further period to ensure that all the irregular expatriates benefit from the scheme, according to Arab News. Meanwhile there was a furore outside the Bangladesh Consulate in Jeddah as expatriates expressed frustration at the inefficiency with which their exit visas are being issued.
In an interview with Arab News yesterday in the capital, Moni, who is on an official visit to the Kingdom, said that the Bangladeshi expatriates began working on transferring their sponsorship six weeks after the proclamation of the amnesty.
The authorities lifted the ban on the transfer of sponsorship among Bangladeshi workers on May 11.
The Bangladeshis therefore had only six weeks to complete their obligations, whereas others enjoyed the full three month-period of amnesty.
The foreign minister also noted that the country’s missions in Riyadh and Jeddah have done their best to fulfill the authorities’ requirements.
However, she was afraid the missions would not be able to complete all the cases on schedule due to the paucity of time and also due to some delays on the part of Saudi authorities.
She said she put forward her case before the State Minister of Foreign Affairs Iyad Madani and was promised that the matter will be forwarded for favourable consideration to the higher authorities.
Moni said she is to meet Second Deputy Premier Prince Muqren in Riyadh Saturday and would pursue her case for the extension of the amnesty during the meeting. “Such an extension could eventually benefit all expatriates.”
With less than two weeks left for the amnesty deadline, Bangladeshi expatriates raised a furor outside their consulate premises in Jeddah, frustrated over their inability to get fingerprinted and obtain exit visas.
The crowd was controlled immediately.
“Everything is okay. People got angry because of the situation and the hot weather. They were controlled by the consulate and made to understand that those who have registered with the consulate don’t have to worry as their paperwork is under process,” said Muhammad Nazmul Islam, consul general of Bangladesh.
He said the workers went back to re-form queues after the consulate pacified them.
Badar Alam, a Bangladeshi worker, told Arab News that individuals who want to return to Bangladesh were worried as they couldn’t get fingerprinted.
“Almost 4,000 people came to the consulate. They were worried and angry as our turn at the Tarheel is only once a week and the July 3 deadline is nearing. The consulate should do something,” he said, adding that the consulate has assured them that they need not worry even after the amnesty period as their names have been registered with them.
“Though the consulate has already issued their permits, the workers were disappointed at the Tarheel, where they couldn’t complete the biometrics procedure. Today was our turn and they thought all of them will get their work done, but unfortunately only 500 to 600 were fingerprinted,” Islam said.
More than 10,000 Bangladeshi workers registered for obtaining exit permits, of which only 2,000 were fingerprinted and only 1000 obtained their exit stamps.
Sources: Natun Barta and Arab News