x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Migrants arrested in squalid Tourist Club building

Ministry raid finds 60 men living in 'rat and flea infested' flats in downtown Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // Sixty illegal residents living in what was described as a decrepit "rat and flea infested" building were arrested in the capital. The men, from Bangladesh, were living in 18 flats in a Tourist Club area building had all been reported by their employers and sponsors for absconding from work, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

They were arrested during a raid at 1am on Monday. The environment the men lived in "lacked the minimum conditions for health and services", according to the ministry. The men tried to hide from officers in kitchen cupboards and on balconies, banding together in corners and by cowering under beds. "They were using every inch of their apartments for living and sleeping ... rats and insects like cockroaches and fleas filled their homes and kitchens," said Maj Gen Nasser al Menhali, the ministry's acting assistant undersecretary of naturalisation and residency.

"This undoubtedly raises the possibility of them falling prey to dangerous diseases, let alone the spread of diseases among them and to the outside society." Lt Col Salah al Ghoul, the director of the Office for Respect of the Law at the ministry, called the problem of illegal residents a potential "timebomb". The arrests were made as the ministry intensified a campaign targeting illegal residents, who, officials say, present a threat to the country's security, health and economic prospects.

The campaign, called Sahim (Participate), emphasises that people should report illegal migrants to the authorities. This month, ministry officials said they had arrested more than 41,000 illegal residents in all the emirates from January 2009 until March this year. More than 11,000 were arrested in the first quarter of this year alone. @Email:kshaheen@thenational.ae