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Immigration to repatriate expats with valid passports

Mariyam Malsa
25 July 2020, MVT 21:30
Bangladeshi citizens boarding a Maldivian flight for repatriation. PHOTO: MALDIVIAN
Mariyam Malsa
25 July 2020, MVT 21:30

Maldives Immigration announced its decision to facilitate repatriation for all expatriates in the country that possessed valid passports and are not under a travel ban for any reason.

All foreign workers that meet the aforementioned criteria can submit their applications to Maldives Immigration.

The opportunity will remain open from July 24 to December 31, 2020.

According to Immigration, the measure would benefit numerous foreign workers in Maldives who had faced the expiry of visas and employment approvals during the lockdown measures imposed worldwide over the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, Immigration revealed that it would also be extending services for expatriate workers with expired passports via its monitoring sections from 0830 and 1130 hrs.

During the lockdown, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs arranged repatriation for hundreds of expatriate workers from different nations.

The Maldivian government reopened the country's borders on July 15 after almost four months since the issuance of on-arrival visas was halted.

Recently, several expat-led protests have taken place across Maldives amid renewed concerns from rights groups as well as the general public, over the continued exploitation of expatriate workers in the country.

In July, Maldives Police Force arrested more than 80 expatriate workers following protests staged over unpaid wages and inhumane treatment.

On Friday, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the Maldivian government to release all expatriate workers detained for engaging in peaceful protests and drop any criminal charges lodged.

The virus outbreak in capital Male' has also disproportionately affected the migrant worker population, the majority of whom are Bangladeshi nationals living in highly congested quarters where it is impossible to reduce contact or exercise social distancing. Their often small-spaced living conditions have been described by local and international civil society organizations as, "claustrophobic", "unsanitary" and "overcrowded".

In an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19 in congested labour quarters, the government initiated efforts to transfer expatriate workers to safer environments, including temporary shelters in Hulhumale', Thilafushi and Gulhifalhu.

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