x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Raid on Sharjah camp nets 31 illegal workers

A campaign to curb illegal immigration has seen hundreds arrested in surprise visits to labour camps and industrial zones across the country.

Thirty-one illegal Asian workers were found hiding in cabinets and inside a plastic barrel when police raided a labour camp yesterday in the Sharjah industrial zone. The men were sentenced to a month in jail and will be deported after serving their time. The raid was part of a campaign to curb illegal immigration, the Ministry of Interior said. The programme, which started on November 9, has seen hundreds arrested in surprise visits to labour camps and industrial zones across the country.

Last month, officials also began random inspections of buses travelling from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, hoping to catch illegal workers. Yesterday, an Arab man was charged with helping the 31 workers enter the country illegally and providing accommodations for them. He was fined Dh2 million (US$545,000) and sentenced to two months in prison. He, too, will be deported. When police raided the camp, one man was discovered crouching in a big plastic barrel in a washroom, while others had crammed into small cabinets in a kitchen.

"They were hiding in many places in the camp, believing that they could escape from justice," Major Salem al Shamsi, the head of the Sharjah Naturalisation and Residency Department, said in a statement. The raid took place after officials received a tip that the men were being housed in the camp illegally. Major Gen Nasser al Menhali, the acting director of the Naturalisation and Residency Department at the Ministry of Interior, said his department would continue to arrest anyone harbouring illegal immigrants, stating they would face "the toughest measures" allowed by law.

The maximum sentence for providing accommodation for an illegal resident is a Dh100,000 fine and two months in jail. Companies that employ people without sponsoring their visas can be fined up to Dh50,000. Between November 2007 and January of this year, police arrested 25,313 visa violators and illegal immigrants. newsdesk@thenational.ae