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Mandira Nayar
Mandira Nayar


MEA reaches out to starving Indian workers in Jeddah

PTI8_1_2016_000056A External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj | PTI

Sushma Swaraj has been sleepless in capital. The minister of external affairs was woken up at 2:45 on Monday morning by workers in Jeddah, according to sources.

It is estimated that close to 10,000 Indian workers have been laid off due to the economic slowdown in the Gulf. With practically no money to go back—companies have held back their salaries—the workers are “facing a food crisis,’’ according to the tweets of Swaraj.

Sources claim the situation is “fluid”. The minister of state for external affairs V.K. Singh will reach Jeddah on Tuesday to assess the situation of Indian workers. The ministry is considering bringing back to India those who want to return. The newly appointed minister M.J. Akbar is coordinating with Saudi authorities to arrange exit visas.

In the past few days, the Indian consulate has been on a mission to feed. The Indian community has also stepped in. Swaraj tweeted appealing to the communities to come forward and help their brothers and sisters."There is nothing mightier than collective will of Indian nation,'' she tweeted.

So far over 15,000 kgs of food have been distributed. The situation is dire. Indian workers in Riyadh have not been paid salaries. But they are getting rations. However, workers employed by Saudi Oger Company have had no rations since July 25. They have been accommodated in five camps at Jeddah, Mecca and Taif and food rations have been provided.

There are 30,000 Indians living in Saudi Arabia. On the recent visit to the country, Prime Minister Modi had met workers to understand their problems. While the looming economic crisis has been affecting workers for a while now, it is only over the weekend that the extent of the problem surfaced.

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