Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tough Time For Illegals In The Two Holy Places

Today's news reported  Indonesian overstayers  in Saudi became unruly nuisance so they would be picked up by police and deported from the country free of charge.

When I was there last month, many Indonesians stay away from public areas and only come out when night falls under their black veils to do their trade.
Even then, they were always on the lookout for 'searching eyes'.
In Mecca, they had shifted their stay right up to the hilltop, away from the authority's long arm.
The immigration went all out to nab these over-stayers and illegal immigrants.

I had always with me many SR1.00 to be given away in Madinah.
But it was only on the first day of Syawal, after a week of my stay there, did I manage to meet the first girl  asking for money.
Even then, she was beautifully dressed - Aidilfitri perhaps - or to camouflage herself from the patrolling policemen.

The same scenario happened in Mecca, only few children - with beautiful dresses and shirts, asked for money.
I ended up bringing back much of the untouched SR1.00.
For the next trip, perhaps, GOD willing.

A six-month general amnesty was given, on the second week of Syawal, to overstayers after arriving on Haj, Umrah or visit visas but they are to approach the deportation center with their passports and air tickets to get an exit visa stamped on their travel documents.
Many of these illegals I met would rather lined themselves up on the street, hoping to be caught by the authority, jailed and deported - simple - as they said.
They were confidant that their embassy would arrange for their 'free' deportation.

The Saudi immigration really mean business this year - they'll do what they say.
Starting this year, to curb illegals, all food for pilgrimmers will be catered from legal sources.
Travel agencies are not allowed to have their food self-cooked or having their own kitchen hands.

Talking to these seasonal food caterers who had been in Mecca for the past many, many years, they knew their livelihood is at stake.
Even then, none I talked to, wanted to move back to Indonesia although they knew the amnesty is only until March 23, 2011


Police Target 'Fake Pilgrims'

Police were cracking down on 'fake pilgrims' after a record number of people registered to travel to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj. - Photo: AFP

DHAKA - BANGLADESHI authorities said on Tuesday the police were cracking down on 'fake pilgrims' who may actually be migrants after a record number of people registered to travel to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj.

This year, 93,875 people from Bangladesh have registered to perform the annual pilgrimage in November, up from just 58,489 in 2009, religious affairs ministry spokesman Anwar Hossain told AFP.
'We have warned the police, the Hajj travel agencies about fake pilgrims - we are worried some of them may not return from Saudi Arabia,' Hossain said.
Performing Hajj at least once is a religious obligation for all able-bodied Muslims who can afford it.
Bangladeshi police are cross-checking all Hajj applicants under 40 and any who do not appear to come from wealthy families in an attempt to weed out economic migrants trying to get to the Gulf on Hajj visas to work.
Bangladesh, the world's third largest Muslim-majority nation, relies heavily on remittances, but the global downturn affected jobs for migrant workers, particularly in the construction and manufacturing sectors in the Gulf. -- AFP


Bulan haji telah tiba lagi .......... said...

Salam Ummie
25yrs ago my mum went haj & saw groups of children begging. Happened to walk the back alley & saw a truck with child beggars (some cying) with some adults (definately not parents). Did u see any? Wondering - Are we really doing good (i.e in the long run).
God bless the Saudi gov. Insyallah.
Now on 'Road to Hajj' on Bio TV. Good & informatic.


Ummie said...

25 years ago?
The first time I was there was in 1996 & that's the usual sight - we cannot differenciate those who were really in need & the one under syndicate.
But comparing 2005 & 2010, there are almost complete changes the way the 2 places being run - for the convenience of jemaah at large.

Thanks for the shared info. Will watch soon.

Uncle Lee said...

Hello Ummie, really interesting post. I never knew about all this. That many illegals there too.
Here too we have our fair share of illegals jumping ship so to speak, but the government too cracking down hard.

Glad to know you have gone to Mecca. It is good at least once in a lifetime. Have seen it on TV here.
You keep well, best regards, Lee.