No Indian worker will starve in Saudi, Sushma tells Parl

Raj Kamal Rao

External Affairs Sushma Swaraj told the Parliament that the government was finalising the evacuation plan of labourers starving in trouble-hit Saudi Arabia.  She said more than 10,000 Indians who were trapped in Saudi Arabia, were facing acute shortage of food in their shelter camps. These camps located in five different locations, will be given full support from government, the minister said.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj making a statement on Govt's efforts to rescue labours from Saudi

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj making a statement on Govt’s efforts to rescue labours from Saudi

Swaraj gave a statement in the Upper House while responding to the matter raised by Ali Anwar Ansari. Swaraj told the Parliament that Minister of State for External Affairs General VK Singh will go to Saudi to ensure that the Indian labourers are paid all debts.

“Saudi embassies can’t give emergency visas unless and until the employer issues no objection certificate. We have asked the labour office to get into an agreement with companies that have closed down their units to make pending payments to our labourers,” said the External Affairs Minister.

Swaraj assured the House that the government was taking the matter extremely seriously.

‘Government will evacuate all labourers who have lost their jobs as early as possible…None of our labour will starve in any part of the world. Their safety is our responsibility and we will do everything,’ the minister assured.

Rajya-SabhaEarlier in the day, JD(U) and Samajwadi Party too raised the plight of Indian labourers in Saudi Arabia. He said that factory owners had not paid salaries to the labourers for more than eight months.

“Our labourers do not get employment here… they go to Gulf counties and face a lot of problems. Please bring them back and get them their pending payments,” said Anwar Ali of the JD(U).

“Many labourers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh go to Saudi to earn their living. Now thousands of them are trapped in the country and are facing ill treatment from authorities. Government must bring them back,” said SP MP Naresh Agrawal.

A humanitarian crisis has erupted in Saudi Arabia  where over 10,000 Indian workers are facing a severe food shortage because of financial constraints. The labourers have lost their jobs and the Indian government has come to their rescue. On Sunday, the Indian governemnt ordered its mission in the Gulf nation to provide food and other assistance to the labourers.

Consulate General of India, Jeddah distributes food packets for Indians starving in Saudi Courtesy: CGIJeddah/Twitter

Consulate General of India, Jeddah distributes food packets for Indians starving in Saudi Arabia.
Courtesy: CGIJeddah/Twitter

Swaraj’s initial response came after a man tweeted to bring to her notice that about 800 Indians were starving in Jeddah for the last three days.

Government immediately swung into action and ordered Indian missions to provide free food for labourers living in the shelter camps.

“Indian Consulate (Jeddah) and Indian community’s food stuff distribution mission accomplished at 2:45 AM today morning. Kudos to all,” the Indian Consulate tweeted.

“All 5 camps, Shumaisi, Sisten/Macrona, Sojex, Highway, Taif taken care with supply of food materials. An effort of last four days succeeded well,” it said.

The Consulate, in association with the Indian Community in Jeddah, has already distributed 15,475 kgs of food stuff and other items.