Manama: Kuwait deported around 17,000 foreigners in 2018 for breaking the law, including traffic violations.

The figure is much lower than that of the previous year when 29,000 foreigners were deported, a 45 per cent decrease, sources said.

It also confirms the steady decline in the number of deportees after 2016 when 31,000 foreigners were sent back home for legal violations.

The sources said those who were deported last year were staying illegally in the country following the expiry of their residence permits, or broke employment rules, were implicated in criminal cases that included violating traffic rules or committing delicts or crimes.

More than 100,000 illegal workers are believed to be staying in Kuwait and the authorities estimate that around 60,000 expatriates mainly from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Syria, the Philippines, and Pakistan are illegally working as domestic helpers.

In January last year, the authorities granted a grace period to allow thousands of expatriates staying illegally in Kuwait to leave the country.

Asian embassies reported that thousands of their nationals took advantage of the opportunity window initially from January 29 until February 22, but later extended by two months, and left the country.

Some diplomats reported that their missions exerted special efforts to support their nationals financially and to fund their tickets home.

Since August, Kuwait has been speeding up the process to deport foreign illegal residents, lawbreakers and beggars.

The interior ministry then drew up a list of all residents wanted in law violation cases in order to arrest them, serve their prison terms if any, and then deport them.

A team of investigators was set up to deal urgently with the cases of beggars and foreigners who entered Kuwait on family visit or tourism visas but took up jobs illegally.

Foreigners who served their time in jail were not allowed to renew their residence and were deported.

Kuwait highlighted that it had a zero-tolerance approach towards foreigners involved in street brawls, violation of public order or begging, particularly during religious occasions, and did not hesitate to deport them.

Kuwaiti nationals caught committing the same offences are fined or sent to jail.