The Indian government has urged its countrymen who are stranded in Saudi Arabia to return home by September 25.
Several Indian workers have been stranded in the kingdom without pay after being laid off by struggling construction companies such as Saudi Oger and Saudi Binladin.
“Indian workers who have lost their jobs should file their claims and return by 25th September. We will bring them back free of charge,” Indian minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj messaged on Twitter on Tuesday.
“When the Saudi government settles with the companies, the workers’ claims will also be settled,” she added.
Those who do not return by 25th September will have to make their own arrangements for boarding, lodging and return journey. /4
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) August 23, 2016
The Indian embassy in the kingdom has said that the documents needed to go India are: passport, ticket and exit visa. However, it stressed that only the first two can be provided by the embassy.
“Please bear in mind that return to India is only [possible] with an exit visa, which is given by the Saudi sponsor,” the embassy tweeted.
Thousands of Indian workers – estimated at close to 8,000 – are currently stuck without a job and pay in the kingdom, with many of them also struggling for basic necessities such as food.
Earlier this month, minister of state for External Affairs V K Singh visited Saudi Arabia to take up the matter with authorities in the kingdom.
Indian officials requested authorities in Saudi to provide stranded Indian workers exit visas without an NOC (No objection certificate) from their employers.
In response, Saudi’s King Salman set aside SAR100m of government money to help the stranded workers and also laid out new rules requiring companies to pay up their dues.
Earlier this week, it was reported that the Saudi Binladin Group had started repaying pending salaries to its workers.
The kingdom’s Labour and Social Development minister Mufrej Al Haqabani also said that the company will completely clear all its dues owed to its workers by the end of September.