Saudi Arabia is facing an economic slowdown triggered by low oil prices. The falling oil prices have forced the Saudi government to heavily slash its spending, thus putting pressure on the finances of local construction firms who typically rely on state contracts. Thousands of foreign workers have been abruptly laid off without wages leaving them destitute. The workers raised their voices protesting to the Saudi government in vain.
Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj responded to a tweet by a man who said that around 800 Indians were starving for the last three days in Jeddah and sought her intervention. She said last night that over 10,000 Indian workers in Saudi Arabia were facing ‘food crisis’. The Indians had lost their jobs in Saudi, leaving them with not enough money to even buy food. The government has instructed the Indian Mission in the Kingdom to provide food to them besides other assistance in this humanitarian crisis.
The Indian embassy in the Gulf nation was running five camps to feed the affected people.
“All 5 camps, Shumaisi, Sisten/Macrona, Sojex, Highway, Taif have taken care with supply of food materials. An effort of last four days succeeded well.” “Indian Consulate (Jeddah) and Indian community’s food stuff distribution mission was accomplished at 2:45 am today morning. Kudos to all,” the Indian Consulate in Jeddah tweeted.
Minister Sushma Swaraj declared ‘Mission Accomplished’ on Sunday to the media.
Indian Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar informed that Saudi authorities have assured that Exit visas of affected Indian workers will be processed and their wage claims considered. He also said via media that necessary assistance is being provided to the distressed citizens with the support of the Indian community in Saudi Arabia.
“Thankful that Saudi authorities have assured the Indian Embassy that Exit visas of Indian workers will be processed, Wage claims will be registered,” Akbar said. Minister of State for External Affairs General V. K. Singh is travelling to the Gulf nations to oversee the operation, which involves airlifting the people, with Saudi authorities assuring assistance. He will be visiting worker camps as well.
Sushma Swaraj has appealed to 30 lakh Indians in Saudi Arabia to help their “fellow brothers and sisters”, asserting that there is nothing “mightier” than the collective will of the Indian nation. She said, Indians in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were facing various problems relating to their work and wages and that matters are much worse in the former.
Around 800 Indian workers employed by one of the most renowned construction companies at Jeddah ‘Saudi Oger Ltd.’ lost their jobs. This company had not paid its employees for seven months.
The Wall Street Journal reports 3 million Indian workers are bearing the brunt of Saudi Arabia’s economic turn due to sliding oil prices. The situation in Saudi is getting more complex day by day increasing the employment uncertainties of foreign workers. Around 60 lakh Indians are employed in Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and UAE. It is feared that the number of Indian workers facing employment crisis in these countries may rapidly increase in the future.