x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Thousands of illegals detained in Sharjah

A two-month campaign uncovers more than 1,000 illegal residents, including hundreds of runaway housemaids.

SHARJAH // A two-month campaign has uncovered more than 1,000 illegal residents, including hundreds of runaway housemaids. Over May and June, teams targeted residential areas and found 1,085 illegal residents, 53 of whom who had entered the country using photographs on identity papers that were not their own. Col Dr Abdullah bin Sahoo, head of the Naturalisation and Residency Department, said that of those caught, 592 had been sponsored by private companies and 85 by the government; 273 were runaway housemaids and 69 had entered the country with a visit visa that had expired. A further 11 people had entered with a tourist visa whereas another two had only a transit visa.

Col bin Sahoo said the campaign to catch residency violators would continue, especially in industrial areas where, he said, many illegal residents lived. He said that while most of those arrested now faced deportation, those who had been found with fake identity papers would be prosecuted, "to send a message to other impersonators that we are serious about this crime". He added: "We are also sending a strict warning to companies and institutions that are employing or sheltering illegals that they would be taken to court."

Last year, the department began demanding that all visa applicants register a permanent address. When the visa expires, officials visit the address to ensure they are not overstaying. The Sharjah detentions come on the back of recent efforts in other emirates to track illegal residents. Two weeks ago, the Umm al Qaiwain Government said 174 maids were registered as having fled their sponsors since the start of the year, up from almost 100 in the same period last year.

A further 180 labourers were also registered as having fled their sponsors in Umm al Qaiwain this year. ykakande@thenational.ae