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Kuwait Image Credit: Yasmena Al Mulla/Gulf News

Cairo: Kuwait will deport 302 Filipinos from among a total of 462 Filipino labourers evacuated from an unlicensed sheltering centre amid labour tensions between the two countries.

The 150 others are kept in police custody due to travel restrictions related to involvement in different legal cases including criminal cases, Kuwaiti newspaper Al Rai has reported.

The 462 workers had been evacuated from a house rented by the Philippine embassy “in violation of laws because it sheltered house labour fugitives from their sponsors,” the paper quoted Kuwaiti security sources as saying.

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“The evacuation operation was conducted in coordination between the Public Authority of Manpower and the Residency Affairs Police after notifying the Philippine embassy,” the sources said.

Last month, Kuwait said it would suspend issuing all visas for Filipino labourers until further notice

The Filipino deportees including nine women will be sent back home in groups aboard flights starting from Thursday, according to the security sources.

“No embassy has the right to set up sheltering centres for fugitive workers,” the sources said.

Late last month, the Kuwaiti Interior Ministry said a ban earlier imposed on issuing visas for Filipino workers remains in place, blaming the ban on what it called “wrong practices” made by the Philippine embassy and crimes committed by some members of the Filipino community against Kuwaitis.

“Kuwait’s sovereignty and its people’s dignity are a red line,” Kuwait’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Talal Al Khalid was quoted as saying in a statement by the Kuwaiti Public Authority of Manpower (PAM).

Kuwait continues renewal for Filipinos holding valid residency permits, who want to continue to work in the country, according to the official.

Philippine violations mentioned by PAM included suggesting to domestic labour recruitment offices to withdraw house workers from Kuwaitis’ households on the pretext that their employment contracts were completed; putting pressure on employers with undesirable conditions on renewing contracts; and directly contacting Kuwaiti citizens and recruitment offices to check with the Philippine embassy, thus circumventing competent agencies in Kuwait.

PAM also cited “inappropriate treatment” given to Kuwaiti citizens checking with the Philippine embassy upon its request.

The embassy was accused of sheltering workers although some of them are violators of Kuwait’s residency law, or have been registered as absentees.

Kuwait has set a number of conditions for resolving the dispute with the Philippines.

They included an acknowledgment on the part of the Philippine embassy of committing violations of Kuwaiti laws, and making an official pledge of not repeating them in the future.

The conditions were at the centre of talks recently held in Kuwait with a Philippine delegation. Manila rejected them, Kuwait said.

As a result, Kuwait said its decision to suspend issuing all visas for Filipino labour will continue “until further notice”.