7,700 workers seek their tickets home

At least 7,700 illegal Indian construction workers in UAE are seeking emergency certificates to return home.

At least 7,700 illegal Indian construction workers currently in the UAE are seeking amnesty and emergency certificates from the Indian Consulate in order to be able to return home.

Speaking to Construction Week, BS Mubarak, labour consul, said: "We've had at least 11,000 workers seeking amnesty and outpasses, about 70% of which work in the construction sector. We are still issuing outpasses to workers that show up requesting amnesty."

On 3 June, the UAE declared a three-month amnesty, offering illegal residents the chance to leave the country without being banned from re-entering or fined. All illegal residents found in the country after that date will face prosecution and deportation.

"All those who we have issued outpasses to have to leave the country by 2 September, because that is when the outpasses are valid until," added Mubarak.

"After that, they become illegal residents again and will face prosecution by the UAE government. This is their last chance of getting out of this without any action being taken against them."

Companies who employ illegal workers will also face penalties of up to a month in jail and a fine of around US $13,600 (AED50, 000) for each worker.

The last time the UAE issued such an amnesty was in 2003.

But with so many construction workers unable to afford the trip back home, the Indian Embassy is negotiating with airlines to offer reduced rates on flights.

"We have asked various airlines to offer discounted fares for transporting workers who avail of the public amnesty," said Mubarak. "It is a bit difficult for us to provide plane tickets for all, so we are in talks with various airline companies to help out."

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