x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

One dead, 17 injured in Saudi Arabia riots over migrant labour crackdown

Fighting continues between residents and expatriates in the Manfouha district of Riyadh.

A Sudanese man was killed and 17 people injured in Riyadh as Saudi police and foreign nationals clashed amid a clamp down on undocumented workers across in the country.

The fighting on Wednesday took place between residents and expatriates in Manfouha district, which was also the scene of violence last week, the official Saudi Press Agency said, citing an police spokesman. Police intervened as rioters attacked cars and pedestrians with rocks.

Clashes in Manfouha, a neighbourhood with a large Ethiopian population, started on November 9 as authorities enforced measures against violators of the kingdom’s labour laws. Two people were killed and 561 arrested during that day of violence.

Since then, about 17,000 Ethiopians have surrendered to authorities in the capital, Al Riyadh newspaper said this week, citing Nasser Al Qahtani, a police spokesman in Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia is taking action against illegal workers as it pushes to create more jobs for its citizens.

The jobless rate for Saudi workers is about 12 per cent, according to official figures, and expatriates account for a nine million of the kingdom’s population of 27 million.

Nearly 160,000 Ethiopian women went to work in Saudi Arabia in the 12 months ending July 7 last year, more than 10 times the number a year earlier, data from the Ethiopian Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs show.

Other foreign nationals are also fleeing into the mountains in the south-west as they try to escape the crackdown. Saudi border guards have detained and processed 31,000 people for deportation in the region of Jazan near the Yemeni border since the roundup started.

Bloomberg News with additional reporting by Agence France-Presse