JEDDAH: IBRAHIM NAFFEE
LATEST STORIES IN FEATURED
Portable electronics to be allowed on flights
31-hour wait pays off: Last Indians cleared for deportation
Manila appeals for amnesty extension
UK trial shows phone hacking techniques
Syria chemical arms production equipment destroyed: watchdog
The fate of at least 40 percent of Syrian expatriates who have failed to legalize their status hangs in the balance.
These expats can neither return home nor can they be deported after the amnesty comes to an end on Nov. 3 because they are wanted by security forces in the strife-hit country.
A number of Syrians working in private companies told Arab News that their employers had put off transferring their sponsorships until 2014.
About 1 million Syrian expatriates live and work in Saudi Arabia, the largest Syrian community outside Syria. The vast majority of Syrians live in Jeddah and the Western region. Most of them come from conflict-ridden areas, including Aleppo. Many Syrians have stopped visiting their country for fear of persecution and they cannot be deported because most of them are wanted by security forces for expressing their views against the Syrian regime.
Mohammed Al-Turkawi, a Syrian activist and former member of the Syrian Coalition Party who lives in Jeddah, told Arab News: “Forty percent of Syrian expats could not correct their status during the amnesty period because of political hurdles. The Syrian Consulate has refused to renew passports of Syrians who are wanted by security agencies in Syria.”
“Syrian expatriates have to go to neighboring countries to renew their passports because the Syrian mission in the Kingdom has refused to renew passports of those who are members of the Syrian opposition,” said Al-Turkawi.
“Syrian missions in various countries have blacklisted the names of citizens who are against the Syrian regime. The missions in these countries refuse to deal with them and threaten them with either withdrawal or cancellation of their passports,” Al-Turkawi added.
Most Syrian residents in the Kingdom who are unable to rectify their status and get a final exit wish to remain in the Kingdom until the war ends in Syria or a political solution is worked out to end the crisis in their country.
“The last time labor authorities’ carried out raids and found illegal Syrians, they did not press for their deportation since the Saudi government is aware that such expats are at risk of persecution if deported back home,” he said.