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Kuwait sought no help to deport illegal residents: UN

KUWAIT: Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Resident Coordinator in Kuwait Dr Tarek Al-Sheikh refuted reports that the Kuwaiti government asked the UN to step in and help deport violators of the residency law to their respective countries. He expressed full confidence in the approach of the government of His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah to strengthening the country’s new vision for humanitarian action and rule of law.

Kuwait’s Interior Ministry issued an amnesty allowing residency violators to leave the country between April 1 and April 30 without paying any fines or airfare with a chance to return to Kuwait later. Dr Al-Sheikh made the remarks in a press release on Wednesday following a visit by Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Iman Ereiqat and Head of Office of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Samer Haddadin to one of 12 temporary dwelling sites of illegal residents in Kuwait.

He applauded the relentless efforts made by the Kuwaiti government to naturalize the illegal residents in accordance with the rules and standards of the Ministry of Interior with a view to alleviating their suffering from the malpractices of “human traffickers.” Dr Al-Sheikh echoed Haddadin’s statement during his tour that Kuwait did not seek UN intervention in the deportation of violators of residency law “who can by no means be called refugees.”

“The State of Kuwait proved to be a humanitarian country of justice and law while addressing the crisis of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19),” the senior UN official said. Dr Al-Sheikh noted that the joint IOM-UNHCR team were accompanied by Kuwait’s Acting Assistant Foreign Minister for Human Rights Affairs Talal Al-Mutairi and head of the repatriation taskforce Maj Gen Abdin Al-Abdin during their visit to the temporary housing of illegal residents at Tareq Al-Sayed Rajab Middle School for Boys in Sulaibikhat Area.

“Such sites were designated for housing the violators of residency law who opted voluntarily to return to their home countries,” he said, noting that these persons were provided with all services during their temporary stay, including sleeping rooms, clinics and three meals a day, in keeping with international standards. “The State of Kuwait has set the end of April as a deadline for the violators of residency law to leave voluntarily without having to pay any fines or travel ticket fairs,” Dr Al-Sheikh pointed out.

Meanwhile, Ereiqat lauded as trailblazing Kuwait’s efforts to address the affairs of violators of residency law in a humanitarian manner. “Once again, the State of Kuwait proves to be a true center of humanitarian action,” she said, taking pride in the partnership between the IOM and Kuwait in carrying out this project pursuant to the best international practices.

On the combat against COVID-19, the IOM representative said Kuwait made its utmost to contain the spread of the pandemic without affecting the vulnerable people, particularly the low-income expatriates and temporary workers.

In the meantime, Haddadin said Kuwait’s handling of the illegal residents’ affairs overmatched the international standards relating to such cases. On behalf of the UN Refugee Agency, he thanked Kuwait for its leading humanitarian role and the decisive steps to stem the tide of COVID-19 from the very beginning.

Haddadin expressed hope for Kuwait to continue playing a pioneering role in combating the pandemic through prevention of crowded dwelling of law-abiding expatriates and addressing the file of violators of residency law humanely. – KUNA

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