Saturday, 18 January 2014

Hooray! Australia is now on a par with Saudi Arabia for forced returns of migrants. C'mon let's celebrate!

At left: An Ethiopian worker argues with a member of the Saudi security forces as he waits with his countrymen to be repatriated in Manfouha, southern Riyadh (Reuters).  Picture from International Business Times

I wonder if Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison are offering themselves a toast of some bubbly stuff.  They have something to celebrate.  They have placed Australia - with their tow backs and life-boat forced aboards - on a par with that great bastion of human rights, Saudi Arabia.

The material below comes from the Editor's Note in the January 17, 2014 Newsletter of the Migration Policy Institute - Migration Information Source.  

Editor's Note

Saudia Arabia's campaign to remove irregular migrants, which has resulted in nearly 1 million people leaving the country since last year, continues. More than 2,000 Somali migrants were repatriated to Mogadishu earlier this week.

Ethiopia, Yemen, and Somalia are among the countries struggling to absorb the returnees. The International Organization for Migration, which has been providing emergency medical assistance, food, and reintegration allowances to some of the irregular migrants, estimated earlier this month that more than 151,000 Ethiopians have been returned from Saudi Arabia. Yemeni officials estimate 300,000 to 400,000 Yemenis were expelled from Saudi Arabia last year, with thousands dropped off in a single day at a crossing along the countries' shared border. Saudi Arabia also has removed large numbers of migrant workers from Egypt, India, Sudan, and other countries.

The returns are imposing a double strain on the economies of the migrants' countries of origin. In addition to facing the return of these workers and the need to integrate them into labor markets, the countries now must do without the remittances that they sent home. Saudi Arabia is the world's third-largest source of remittances, behind the United States and Russian Federation, with official outflows estimated at $29.4 billion in 2012. By some estimates, the crackdown could result in a one-quarter reduction in remittances from Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi campaign, which has drawn reports of abuses against migrants and also resulted in a violent clash, is part of a broader effort to create new job openings for Saudi nationals and to remake the country's labor market; it is also viewed as an effort to stave off the unrest that has hit elsewhere in the Middle East. The country's population of 29.2 million included about 9 million non-Saudis in 2012.

The crackdown came on the heels of a 2013 amnesty during which 4 million workers rectified visa infringements and obtained work permits, and nearly 1 million Bangladeshis, Filipinos, Indians, Nepalis, Pakistanis, and others left the country. (The Indian government estimates more than 141,000 of its nationals took advantage of the Saudi amnesty.) When the amnesty, declared in March 2013, ended that November, the removals campaign began with workplace raids and other enforcement operations.

While the Saudi government reports the campaign has created greater employment opportunities for Saudi nationals, providing jobs to date for more than 254,000 Saudis, there are suggestions that the economic impact on certain sectors in the kingdom may not be entirely positive, at least in the near term.

The Migration Information Source team

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