Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, spokesman for the ministry, said all illegal workers would have the option to return. “The regulations only stipulate a ban of 10 years,” he said.
Al-Turki said eight planes would deport more than 2,000 Ethiopians on a daily basis to their home country. They would leave the country as soon as the Interior Ministry prepares their documents, he said.
Commenting on the news that some illegal Ethiopians had fled the government-run shelter at Princess Noura University, Brig. Gen Nasser Al-Qahtani, Riyadh police spokesman, said workers were free to move around. “They are not in detention.”
“All the doors are open for everyone to go out and buy necessities. They did not run away from the place, otherwise they would not have come back willingly to be deported,” Al-Qahtani was quoted as saying.
He said the police set up a studio to take photographs of the illegal workers to finalize their travel arrangements. “There are 17 employees working in shifts around the clock to speed up the process,” he said.
Bandar Al-Aiban, president of the Human Rights Commission, recently visited the shelter to check the living conditions of the workers.
The group included board members of the commission and Sheikh Saleh Al-Sheikh, president of the criminal court in Riyadh.
Al-Aiban said the commission established a temporary office at the shelter. All members of the team stay and sleep on the campus, he said.
During the three-hour visit, Al-Aiban checked the food provided to the workers, their sleeping area and listened to their complaints. He said they are receiving proper food and other services.
However, some did complain about the unhygienic condition of corridors, bedrooms and washing facilities, he said. Al-Aiban urged the government to speed up deportation procedures. He also visited the Ethiopian Embassy for a briefing on the processes under way.
Al-Aiban said the Kingdom has the “sovereign right” to regulate its labor market. However, the authorities should respect workers’ rights and human dignity.
He said the Saudi government had given all foreign missions fair warning to rectify the status of their workers. He said the government currently provides illegal workers with more facilities than any other country in the world. Arab News