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Crackdown on illegal residents stepped up

More than 1,000 violators arrested in countrywide swoop as top official says the number of people who made use of amnesty fell short of expectations

  • Employees at the Consulate General of Pakistan in Dubai prepare outpasses for the citizens of Pakistan. ThousaImage Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • Major General Nasser Al Awadi Al Menhali, Acting undersecretaryof Naturalisation, Residencyand Ports AffaiImage Credit: Hadrian Hernandez/Gulf News
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: A crackdown on illegal residents has begun and more than 1,000 have already been arrested in the last two days after the two-month amnesty ended on February 2, said a senior official.

Major General Nasser Al Awadi Al Menhali, acting undersecretary of Naturalisation, Residency and Ports Affairs, told a news conference in Abu Dhabi that the crackdown on illegal residents had already been launched. “These illegals have to pay fines accumulated before exit permits are issued and they are deported,” he said.

Maj Gen Al Menhali said authorities will not save efforts to fight the menace of illegal residents. “The crackdown on illegals will continue day and night and a weekly briefing about the results will be given to the media,” he said.

Announcing the official figures of the amnesty seekers, Maj Gen Al Menhali said nearly 62,000 illegal residents availed of the two month amnesty that ended on Saturday, February 2.

“Of the 61,826 illegal residents who took advantage of the amnesty and collected their exit permits, 38,505 people have already left the UAE, while 23,321 others will be leaving the country within the next fortnight,” Maj Gen Al Menhali said.

The figure did not live up to officials’ expectations. “The figure was good but not where you might expect… we wished the number of illegal residents who would avail of the amnesty was bigger,” he said.

More than 800,000 illegal residents availed of three similar amnesties between 1996 and 2007.

As many as 342,000 illegal immigrants took advantage of the last amnesty declared in 2007. Official statistics showed that 341,958 illegal residents availed of the amnesty by either legalising their stay or by leaving the country. While 95,000 illegal workers legalised their status, nearly 175,000 left the country.

Around 300,000 illegal immigrants left the country under the second amnesty which ran between January and April, 2002.

In 1996, about 200,000 illegal residents left the country under a six-month long amnesty.

Maj Gen Al Menhali said only illegal residents were to blame for missing the opportunity to avail of the amnesty. “Those who failed to take advantage of the amnesty which lasted for 60 days have no excuse and no one to blame but themselves,” Maj Gen Al Menhali said.

When asked why the authorities turned down hundreds of amnesty seekers on Sunday and Monday, Maj Gen Al Menhali said the confusion over the last day of the amnesty was fixed and he ordered officials to work on Saturday, the last day of the 60-day amnesty, to process applications from last-minute applicants.

The move to allow passage to illegal foreigners, stuck in the UAE for violation of various immigration rules and regulations is meant to clear the country of thousands but Maj Gen Al Menhali declined to say how many illegals were expected to make use of this amnesty or the breakdown of nationalities or emirates.