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Kuwait: expats sent packing
The state plans to get tough and reduce the number of foreign residents.
May 20, 2013 5:05 by Muhammad Aldalou
Lately, it would appear that Kuwait has been making it unbearable to be an expatriate. Last month, the minister of social affairs and labour, Thekra al-Rasheedi, announced the state’s plans to deport around 100,000 expats every year – in order to reduce the number of foreign residents by one million – for the next decade.
Interestingly enough, we haven’t been told what measures would be used to get the residents to actually leave, but a similar scheme is happening in Saudi Arabia as we speak. Currently, expats make up 68 per cent of Kuwait’s population – approximately 2.6 million.
Come June 1st, a medical segregation at public health facilities will be imposed – whereby only Kuwaiti patients will be treated in the morning, while all foreigners resort to evening consultations and visits. This particular ruling came after complaints in parliament of Kuwaiti patients having to ‘wait’ for treatment due to the large number of expatriates.
And thirdly, the gulf state has recently started deporting expat residents for traffic offences, including driving without a licence, using their cars to carry paying passengers, jumping a red light for the second time, or breaking the speed limit by more than 40 kilometres per hour. So far, over 1,200 expats have been shown the door since the month-old crackdown began and violators can be deported without an official court order. In a nutshell, Kuwait appears to be on a ‘deportation spree’.
It is already difficult enough for any foreigner to obtain a driver’s licence as – according to a now decade-old decision – one must hold a university degree, earn at least $1,400 a month and have lived in Kuwait for at least two years.
The Kuwait Society for Human Rights described the deportations as “oppressive” and urged the government to stop, as it “violates the basic principles of human rights” and could tarnish the state’s image – particularly at a time when its human rights record is already under scrutiny.