Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail has said that the government was targeting to repatriate 20,000 undocumented expatriates in the Maldives by the end of the year
Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail has said that the government was targeting to repatriate 20,000 undocumented expatriates in the Maldives by the end of the year.
The Minister was speaking in the Parliament regarding the emergency issue involving expatriate protests presented today when he said that 62,000 undocumented expatriates were living in the Maldives according to Immigration records. However, the Minister said that the true figure could be as high as 80,000-100,000.
Under the government-initiated regularization program, 43,000 expatriates had become regularized. Around 4,000 foreigners were repatriated as part of the COVID-19 operations of the government. The Minister said that around 3,800 of those repatriated were undocumented.
“I am hoping, by the end of the year, 22,000 will be good, but the target is to repatriate 20,000 expatriates who are willing.” Said the Minister.
The Minister said that the government was not at all trying to repatriate migrants against their will.
"Worse than the MMPRC scandal"
He said that the “business” of undocumented migrants were the worst that the Maldives has seen, even worse than the MMPRC scandal.
“This is certainly a grotesque business conducted in the Maldives with the sale of humans. I have not seen this in my time. The MMPRC scandal is not as bad when I see this.” Said the Minister.
Unfair advantage taken from the illegal business had caused a lot of pain to many that ripped into the social and security of the status of the nation, said the Minister.
“No matter what anyone says at me, as a Maldivian, I am ashamed of how they have been treated in the Maldives.” Said the Minister.
The Minister said that the protests by expatriates trending nowadays were being used by some as political leverage.
“It will be done so in that manner, politics is like that. We have to act intelligently on this. Citizens also have to be patient in this. This did not happen overnight.” Said the Minister.
The Minister said that during the regularization program, a large number of expatriates that wished to return home but couldn’t were identified by the authorities.
“When they come to go back, they are unsure whether they will be detained, or jailed. They flee due to fear of that.” Said the Minister who added that a lot of support was received for the regularization program.
The Minister also said that there were efforts by many to impede the government initiative to repatriate undocumented expatriates. If it had not been for COVID-19, major strides to resolve the issue would have been taken by the government.
The Minister said that the issue had gripped the country hard, however, it was an issue that had built up over 30 years which would take time to be addressed.