x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Nearly 300 illegal labourers detained

Asian labourers who were arrested earlier this month for working illegally and without residency papers are still being held.

ABU DHABI // Nearly 300 labourers found working illegally and detained three weeks ago remain in custody.

The men, most of whom are Bangladeshi, had been working for an Abu-Dhabi-based contractor when they were arrested on May 9 at a camp in Musaffah.

Maj Gen Nasser al Menhali, the assistant undersecretary for naturalisation, residency and ports at the Ministry of Interior, said the men lacked residency papers and would be deported following an investigation. However, he added that some of them lacked the necessary identification.

"We are working with the embassy of Bangladesh to get identification papers for all of them, so they can travel back to their country," he said.

Bangladesh's ambassador to the UAE, Nazmul Quaunine, said: "We are in touch with the UAE authorities. Whenever someone is arrested, a decision is taken depending on the case against him."

He said the embassy had not yet been informed of whether the workers would be deported.

The Daily Star newspaper in Bangladesh reported that of the nearly 300 workers arrested, 224 were from Bangladesh, while four had valid documents and were released. It said the labourers' employer, a Bangladeshi who was also arrested, could now face charges of withholding salaries and keeping the workers in unhygienic conditions. The UAE is the second-largest employer of Bangladeshi workers, behind Saudi Arabia, according to the newspaper.

vtodorova@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Preeti Kannan