x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Police arrest 1,000 runaway maids

More than 1,000 housemaids have been arrested and charged with running away from their sponsors over the past four months in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Sharjah.

ABU DHABI // More than 1,000 housemaids have been arrested and charged with running away from their sponsors over the past four months in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Sharjah, according to authorities. Immigration inspectors said they had arrested 1,094 absconding maids from Southeast Asia since January 1. Police said they had fled their sponsors. "The Ministry of Interior is co-ordinating with the embassies of their countries, and they are from Asian nationalities, to facilitate the procedures and send them home one by one," said Major Gen Nasser al Minhali, the acting assistant undersecretary for the Abu Dhabi Department of Naturalisation, Residency and Ports Affairs.

Officials said the inspection campaign would continue as the "phenomenon persists". The penalty for hiring or housing an illegal immigrant is a fine of Dh100,000 (US$27,000), a minimum of two months in prison and deportation for non-citizens. A person who hires a foreigner they did not sponsor faces a fine of Dh50,000. According to Col Said al Rashidi, the head of the directorate that tracks foreigners who violate immigration laws, 582 of them were arrested in Abu Dhabi, 242 in Al Ain and 270 in Sharjah.

"One of the reasons behind fleeing sponsors is that some agents illegally provide jobs for them for cheap financial returns," Col al Rashidi said. On Friday, 113 Filipina housemaids from Abu Dhabi and Dubai were flown home in a mass repatriation from the Middle East. hhassan@thenational.ae