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Maldives moves to relocate expats living in congested spaces

Fathmath Shaahunaz
06 April 2020, MVT 12:47
Expatriate workers queue up in the National Football Stadium for re-registration. FILE PHOTO: NISHAN ALI / MIHAARU
Fathmath Shaahunaz
06 April 2020, MVT 12:47

National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) announced late Sunday that the government was working to transfer expatriates living in congested spaces to safer environments.

Speaking at NEOC's daily press conference regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Communications Undersecretary at the President's Office Mabrouq Abdul Azeez stated that Ministry of Economic Development has mobilised efforts to relocate expatriate workers.

He assured that the ministry will soon disclose details of the operation, including the number of expats and their living spaces.

The expatriate population in Maldives is estimated to be more than 144,600, with the majority made up of Bangladeshi nationals. As many expatriates live in small, congested spaces, particularly in capital Male' City, officials have expressed concern that a local COVID-19 outbreak would put them at most risk of contracting and spreading the infection, and that it would be extremely difficult to control.

Male' City Council commenced an assessment of the residences and living conditions of expatriates in the capital city last March, to identify the number of foreign nationals living in or using a certain residence and to ensure that efficient protective measures are implemented should an expatriate test positive for the virus. However, authorities are yet to publicise the findings of the survey.

Meanwhile, Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid has requested the government of Bangladesh to help repatriate undocumented workers from Maldives.

The economic ministry also announced earlier that the government would finance the repatriation of undocumented immigrants. Touching upon this issue, Mabrook revealed during Sunday night's conference that more than 300 such individuals have been registered for repatriation.

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