Dr Al Badi
The UAE is set to announce a fresh amnesty to illegal immigrants to encourage them to leave and avert prosecution in a drive to restore social and labour order, Lt. Gen. Dr Mohammed Saeed Al Badi, Minister of Interior, said yesterday.

Quoted by Al Bayan Arabic daily, Dr Al Badi said the ministry had already studied this plan, and hoped embassies in the UAE would help in its implementation.

"The decision to give another amnesty to illegal residents reflects the UAE's tolerance in dealing with others as all violators will be allowed to leave as was the case a few years ago. We will enforce that decision once it is endorsed," he said.

"We are confident that the embassies and consulates of several countries will cooperate with us in this regard because this will have a positive impact on the country. The UAE is providing all possible services and facilities to residents and expects them to comply with the laws of labour and residence It cannot allow them to violate those laws."

More than 200,000 illegal immigrants, mostly south Asians, left the UAE nearly five years ago to benefit from a general amnesty ordered by President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to end confusion in the labour market and ensure security and stability.

Interior ministry sources estimated that more than 150,000 violators of residence rules are staying in the UAE, most of whom sneaked into the country by sea.

Dr Al Badi acknowledged the infiltration problem but said the UAE had taken counter-measures including tight security and surveillance at borders and coastlines, stringent penalties against employers of illegal residents and regular raids on suspected labour sites.

"All these decisions are intended to ensure stability and achieve the higher interests of the country. They are within the framework of our policy aimed at tackling the imbalance in the demographic structure and restoring order and discipline to the labour market," he noted.

He said plans to provide a national number to all UAE citizens and residents would support the drive to maintain social and labour stability.

"We have completed all studies on the national number project. The necessary funds have been approved and it will be enforced soon."

In Fujairah, the Dubai-based Indian Consulate announced that it was planning to set up a temporary counter in Fujairah to help overstaying Indians arrange proper documentation to leave the country, after the UAE issues the new amnesty code soon.

Dr George Joseph, Consul General of India, visited Fujairah on Friday and held discussions with the Indian community here on some of the problems they faced.

He also visited the Indian Social Clubs in Fujairah and Kalba and was chief guest at the Indian Business Council's recent meeting at Fujairah Free Zone Authority's Business Club.

Puthoor Rahman, Vice President of the Indian Social Club in Fujairah, said the move to open a temporary counter in Fujairah would help a number of Indians who are staying in the country illegally. Others who don't have a valid residence visa or passport, will be able to arrange the needed official documents (outpasses) to leave the country, without the need to go to the consulate in Dubai to do the necessary paper work.

He said the Indian Consul General's announcement was welcomed by the Indian community here, who hoped the amnesty code would be issued soon to help solve the problems of many Indians trapped for having broken the country's residence regulations.

During a reception arranged by the Indian Social Club, Dr Joseph answered questions about the amnesty code and how it could help Indians overstaying in the UAE.

Many Indians asked the Indian Consul General about the current India-Pakistan situation. Dr Joseph assured them it would not affect Indians living in the UAE in any sense.