x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Bangladesh keeps check on illegal workers in the UAE

The Bangladeshi embassy is getting ready to make special checks on amnesty seekers in the UAE who do not have any identification documents.

ABU DHABI // The Bangladeshi embassy is getting ready to make special checks on amnesty seekers in the UAE who do not have any identification documents.

"In such cases where a person does not possess any identification we cross-examine [the person's] case before giving an outpass," said the ambassador, Mohammed Nazmul Quaunine, yesterday.

"The mission has requested the Ministry of Interior to accept the outpasses (emergency certificates), issued by the embassy as a proof that [the person] is a Bangladeshi national and can travel to Bangladesh."

Concern was raised about some illegals in Oman slipping across the border to take advantage of the UAE amnesty.

The embassy said it has also received about 10,000 passports belonging to employees who have absconded from their jobs.

An official has been designated to deal specifically with suspicious cases of Bangladeshis who have no identification.

When that arises, the individual's details - name, village, family and date of arrival - will be counter-checked with information in Bangladesh.

So far, about 1,000 people have benefited from the amnesty, the ambassador said. He expects that figure to rise to 20,000 by the end of the amnesty period, in February.

Most Bangladeshis who become illegal do so because they have fled their jobs, leaving them with no documents. A number of people who were issued emergency certificates but were turned down for departure at immigration were issued new certificates ensuring they were Bangladeshi nationals, Mr Quaunine said.

He added that the authorities are aware of shelters in the UAE where illegal residents have lived for several years. Now, those same people want to regularise their status and the embassy wants all its citizens to be in the Emirates legally.

Mr Quaunine cited the organised system put in place by the UAE Government to find out the details of people who have entered the country legally. If immigration officials do not find a person's name in the system, they assume the person entered illegally and is not permitted to leave.

There are more than 700,000 Bangladeshis in the UAE.

In 2007, according to the embassy, some 42,000 people took advantage of a previous amnesty. The number is lower now, the mission said, because the UAE has become stricter about hiring.

Mr Quaunine also expressed his concerns about the drastic drop in Bangladeshi immigration, from 20,000 a month to around 1,000 since the UAE has tried to streamline its labour market, allowing only skilled labourers into the country.

He met immigration officials who said they wanted to maintain a balance in the market among skilled and non-skilled workers from different countries.

Bangladesh, he said, would prefer to allow citizens of all skill levels to work abroad.

anwar@thenational.ae