UAE amnesty scheme goes ‘begging’ - The New Indian Express

UAE amnesty scheme goes ‘begging’

Published: 11th December 2012 09:38 AM

Last Updated: 11th December 2012 09:53 AM

It has been 38 days since the UAE Government declared amnesty to all illegal residents and a week since the programme came into force, but the authorities there are perplexed by the response from the Indian nationals and the  central  and Kerala governments.  Keralites  account  for about 25,000 out of the estimated 45,000 Indians residing illegally in the UAE.

Result: There have been only a few takers among the Indians for the amnesty scheme. They seem to be waiting for the Indian government to waive the outpass fee of 69 dirhams (approximately `1,000) and also provide free air tickets.

While the UAE Government has waived all kinds of fee for the illegal immigrants to leave its shores, both state and central governments, however, seem to be in no hurry to oblige.

The two-month-long amnesty started on December 4 for those who entered the country illegally and those overstayed their visa. The UAE Ministry has warned that this will be the last chance to avail of the facility and those who still stay back will be treated as criminals.

Speaking to Express, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said the issue of free deportation was discussed with Union Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh in the course of the Parliament session on Friday. “A letter has been given to External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid to see that the outpass fee is waived. The state governments too has been persuaded to pay the amount, if required. All steps will be taken to facilitate the easy deportation of the poor from UAE.”

Though the Kerala Government has announced that those illegally staying in the UAE who are willing to return will be provided all facilities, including free air travel, there is still no clear direction as to when it will be provided and how. This becomes critical as the number of Malayalis staying illegally in the UAE, is  around 25,000.

K Kumar, convener, Indian Community Welfare Committees, said a few immigrants have submitted their applications to leave the country. But, they are still waiting for the Indian government’s decision to waive the outpass fee, as a majority of them are too poor to afford even that amount, he said. Several sponsors have come up with offers of providing free air tickets payment for the outpass, but the aggregate amount is not sufficient to meet the demand to send out the entire lot of illegal Indian immigrants.

According to Praveen Kumar, PR coordinator, Federation Of Kerala Colleges Alumni- UAE, (FEKCA), all Malayali organisations are joining hands with Indian embassy and consulate to help those who are willing to return to India. But, initially,  the response was poor.

Around 10 amnesty centres were set up all over UAE to allow the illegal immigrants to leave the country without any legal repercussions. All that they are required to do is to submit their fingerprints and iris scans to ensure that there are no pending cases against them.

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