More than 11,000 Sudanese workers have returned voluntarily from Saudi Arabia after an amnesty for foreign employees to legalise their status, official media said on Saturday.
“The number of Sudanese that have voluntarily returned from Saudi Arabia has reached 11,678 as the amnesty for people working in the country without proper permits expired on November 4”, the state SUNA news agency reported, quoting Khalid Fath al-Rahman, deputy head of Sudan’s embassy in Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia’s Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef said on November 19 that the kingdom had deported more than 60,000 illegal foreign workers since the amnesty ended and that more would follow.
Nearly a million migrants from various countries took advantage of the amnesty to leave voluntarily.
Another four million were able to find employers to sponsor them, a legal requirement in Saudi Arabia as in several other Gulf states.
One Sudanese was killed on November 13 in clashes between Saudis and illegal migrants in the Riyadh neighbourhood of Manfuhah, police said at the time.
SUNA reported that 26 Sudanese were arrested in Riyadh and 43 in Eastern Province.
“They were released to correct their residency situations,” the report said, adding there were 500,000 Sudanese in the kingdom.
Sudanese labour ministry figures show that Saudi Arabia is the largest recipient of a mounting number of migrants from the economically-troubled country.
In total, more than 94,000 workers left Sudan last year, compared with about 10,000 in 2008, according to a labour ministry study.
Sudan’s overall unemployment rate was an estimated 18.8 percent in 2011, but almost double that figure for young people, according to data cited by the United Nations Development Programme.