Kuwait sends back 201 Bangladeshis
Friday, 01 August 2008

Involvement in violence

Staff Correspondent

The Kuwait government sent another 123 Bangladeshi workers back Thursday morning, bringing the total to 201 since the Gulf kingdom announced Wednesday that it would deport Bangladeshis who were involved in violence during recent unrest over low pay.

"According to the [Zia International Airport] officials, 78 Bangladeshis returned Wednesday night, and 123 arrived from Kuwait Thursday morning on two separate flights," Abdul Matin Chowdhury, secretary of the expatriate welfare and overseas employment ministry, told bdnews24.com.

On the confusion over returning numbers in various newspaper reports published Thursday, the secretary said: "Communications with ZIA personnel had given rise to some anomalies in the numbers of returning Bangladeshis.

"People when deported are provided with alternative papers. Again, there were some who came back carrying their regular passports—that's how the anomalies occurred."

ZIA immigration chief Mahfuza Begum told bdnews24.com: "A Kuwait and a Qatar Airways flight carried 123 Bangladeshis back home [Thursday] morning."

South Asian workers in Kuwait, including hundreds of Bangladeshis, staged demonstrations and went on strike Saturday demanding better working standards and pay.

Newspapers in the Gulf kingdom reported that some workers are paid as little as 8 Kuwaiti Dinars ($30 or Tk 2000) a month. Since the incidents of unrest, the Kuwait government has said it will increase the minimum wage of foreign workers to 40 Dinars ($151 or Tk 10,300).

However, The Kuwaiti authorities also announced Wednesday that they would examine video footage and photographs of protesting workers to find out those responsible for damaging vehicles and attacking police, and deport them.

Kuwait police arrested at least 800 Bangladeshi workers during the demonstrations, of whom 300 were later released later as no charges could be substantiated against them.

The Kuwaiti government has assured Bangladesh mission officials that all "innocent" workers will be spared after investigations.

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