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Posted On: 29 August 2016 09:16 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:16 pm

Expatriate groups step in to help amnesty seekers

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Several expatriate organisations have come out to help their community members benefit from a three-month amnesty in Qatar which takes effect from September 1.

Community sources say the amnesty has come as a boon to the presumably high number of illegal residents, who can now leave without facing legal consequences.

The amnesty ends on December 1.

Several runaway workers, including housemaids, families and others who have overstayed and people working illegally stand to benefit from the third amnesty.

The latest amnesty has come ahead of the enforcement of a new law regulating entry, exit and residency of expatriates.

A senior official of Indian Cultural Center (ICC), the umbrella body of Indian community organisations, said yesterday ICC will soon hold a meeting of representatives of all affiliate bodies to discuss the issue.

“The news (about the amnesty) has spread among expatriates but there are many in remote areas outside the city who are still not aware of it. We are seeking support from all our affiliate bodies to raise awareness among the community on this issue,” ICC President Girish Kumar told The Peninsula yesterday.

“We will soon hold a meeting of all affiliate organisations to chalk out a joint plan to disseminate information among community members, focusing on labour camps and remote areas,” he added.

He said people planning to seek amnesty can contact the ICC offices during regular working hours for related information.

“We will provide space in the ICC premises if any affiliate body is interested to set up a help desk,” he added.

He said, ICC, in collaboration with affiliate bodies and the Indian Community Benevolent Forum (ICBF) will also explore ways to provide air tickets to needy Indians seeking amnesty.

S A M Basheer, President of the Kerala Muslim Cultural Center (KMCC), a leading Indian community organisation, said that his organisation will use social media networks and other available channels to spread awareness about amnesty among the Indian community.

“We know that there are many people, including families who are staying in the country illegally, although it is difficult to identify them. They will come out when the amnesty takes effect and we are ready to help,” said Basheer.

Tennison de Silva, President of Sri Lanka Coordinating Committee Qatar, said that the committee has called a meeting of member organisations at the Sri Lankan embassy to discuss ways to help the Sri Lankan amnesty seekers.

“We will probably fix a date for potential amnesty seekers from the community to come to the embassy so that we can take them together to the Search and Follow-Up Department to complete the procedures for their repatriation,” said de Silva.

He said there are not many illegal Sri Lankan workers and residents, since most community members are well-educated about the rules and regulations of the country.

There are people who want to seek amnesty but are afraid that they may still face legal action, if they surrender. “We want to tell them that there is no need for such fears,” said de Silva.

A Nepalese community worker said that the number of illegal Nepalese residents could be relatively high, considering the large size of the Nepalese community.

Nepalese formed the highest, among the nearly 10,000 illegal residents who left the country taking advantage of the last amnesty in 2004. (Source)