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Cairo: Saudi Arabia said it has arrested a total of 16,649 illegal expatriates in one-week nationwide campaigns for violating the kingdom’s residency, labour and border security laws as part of a clampdown that has been running for months.

The arrests, made over the period of March 16-22, included 9,259 violators of the kingdom’s residency system, 4,899 violators of the border security rules and 2,491 others who breached the labour regulations, Okaz newspaper reported, citing the Interior Ministry.

A total of 15,782 illegals, including 2,367 women, are currently being subjected to deportation measures, according to figures from the ministry.

Some 7,722 others have been referred to their respective diplomatic missions to obtain travel documents ahead of deportation while 12,765 other illegals have been deported from the kingdom, the report said.

Eighteen people were also arrested during the same period involved in transporting, sheltering and employing violators of the kingdom’s residency, border and work regulations.

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 crackdown on violators of the kingdom’s laws.

Last week, authorities said they had arrested 16,471 such illegals in one week.