Special cells of embassies working to meet May 31 amnesty deadline
Mon, 05 April 2010
By Kaushalendra S Singh - MUSCAT – The Ministry of Manpower’s decision to extend the amnesty deadline till May 31 has given a sigh of relief both to overstaying expatriates and embassies in Oman. Due to large number of such cases, some embassies were hard pressed as many more cases were yet to be settled by the end of March 31 deadline.
The embassies having large number of such cases have set up special cells to meet the situation so that their community members in the Sultanate could avail the amnesty offer and go back to their respective countries without paying the fine. According to sources in the Indian Embassy, fingerprinting of more than 9,700 people have been done and 3, 200 have already gone home. Processing for another lot of 3,000 people has begun after finger printing and now there is a system in place under which 200 to 300 cases can be cleared every day.
A large number of community workers drawn from various wings of the Indian Social Club are giving voluntary service to the overstaying expatriates and helping them in registration and other paper works to facilitate their smooth passage. “More than 60 volunteers are participating in the process and helping both the overstayers and the embassy staff in getting their papers processed,” said E G Madhusudhanan, Convener of the Malayalam Wing of Indian Social Club.
The embassy officials also admitted that they were receiving good co-operation from community members without which it would have been very difficult to get the things processed so fast. Anil Wadhwa, Indian Ambassador to the Sultanate, termed the amnesty as a necessary step and called upon the community members to avail the opportunity by getting themselves registered and get their papers processed. “Things are moving at a faster pace now and we hope that we will complete most of the cases by the end of new deadline,” said the ambassador.
Indian Airlines has set up a camp office at the embassy to streamline the departure of people whose papers have been processed fully and are ready to go. S M Ferdous, Charge d’ Affaires of Bangladesh Embassy, said,“Those who missed last opportunities to go home can avail this as a great opportunity. My people are happy that they can come back to Oman on a legal visa. The amnesty has given them an opportunity to get things legalised and they can come back to Oman if they do not have bad records.”
Currently, the Bangladeshi embassy is concentrating only on overstayers. As many as 10,000 nationals have been registered with the mission. Paper works of more than 6,000 have been completed and more than 2,500 have already gone. Ferdous thanked members of Bangladesh Social Club for their support to fellow countrymen in getting their paper works done to avail the amnesty.
Commenting on the status of those Bangladeshis who do not have Omani resident card and staying illegally in Oman, Ferdous said “Such cases would be taken up later with the immigration authorities. At present we are concentrating only on overstayrs.” Commenting on problems being faced by the embassy in sending the amnesty seekers back home Ferdous said: “Lack of transport facility. We have a big backlog as the same number of flights are carrying the regular passengers as well as amnesty seekers.”
J K Ahsan Wagan, Pakistan’s Deputy Head of Mission, and Charge de Affairs at the Pakistan Embassy said: “The embassy of Pakistan is not expecting a huge turnout for amnesty as number of illegal stayers is minimal.” “Only 3,000 have been registered so far. Since we do not have a monitoring system to track how many have left the country and how many are yet to go, we cannot comment on that." He, however, made it clear that all those who have got ‘out pass’ have to buy tickets on their own to make a safe exit.
Philippines embassy confirmed that around 160 names have been submitted to the Manpower Ministry for out passes and the first batch of 112 people will leave the country by April 18. The rest of the amnesty seekers are travelling tentatively on April 25. Mangalika Hewavithana, Labour Secretary at the Sri Lankan Embassy, said about 500 overstayers have applied so far, about 125 have left the country till now after completing their formalities and 350 are done with their eye-test, finger print, etc and 25 people are still waiting to undergo their formalities.
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