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Cairo: A total of 16,982 illegal expatriates have been rounded up in Saudi Arabia in one week in a nationwide swoop for violating the kingdom’s residency, labour and border security laws as part of a relentless crackdown, the Interior Ministry has said.

A breakdown provided by the ministry showed that the arrests, made over the period of March 30-April 5, included 9,500 violators of the kingdom’s residency system, 5,020 violators of the border security rules and 2,462 others who breached the labour regulations.

A total of 15,327 illegals, including 1,812 women, are currently being subjected to legal measures, the ministry said.

Some 7,723 others have been referred to their respective diplomatic missions to obtain travel documents ahead of deportation, and travel reservations are being conducted for 1,684 more illegals while 8,550 others have been deported from the kingdom.

Thirteen people were, meanwhile, arrested for involvement in transporting, sheltering and employing violators of the kingdom’s residency, border and work regulations, the ministry said.

The Saudi Interior Ministry has repeatedly warned that those who facilitate the entry of infiltrators into the country or provide them with transportation, shelter or any sort of assistance face penalties of a maximum of 15 years in prison, and a fine of up to SR1 million, as well as confiscation of the transport and the accommodation means, in addition to naming to shame them.

Saudi Arabia, a country of around 34.8 million people, hosts a large community of migrant workers.

Saudi media has regularly reported about arresting illegal expatriates in the ongoing clampdown on violators of the kingdom’s laws.

Last week, authorities reported the arrest of more than 16,000 illegals during the crackdown.