RIYADH – Thousands of jobless Pakistanis, Indians, and Filipinos are stranded and destitute in Saudi Arabia after a plunge in oil prices sparked construction layoffs.
Around 700 Pakistanis are currently stranded in Riyadh with no money or food as a result of the lay-offs.
Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif has taken notice of the Pakistanis suffering in Saudi Arabia and ordered the Pakistan Embassy in Riyadh to resolve their issues as soon as possible. The prime minister further directed the FO to ensure provision of all necessary support to Pakistani workers.
PM Nawaz also requested the Saudi government to pay the workers their dues end their plight.
“The (Pakistani) embassy has further informed that Saudi King has issued a decree for urgent payment of dues to workers by the concerned,” the office of the prime minister said.
Some Filipinos have now resorted to begging or sifting through the garbage to survive after going unpaid for months, said Garry Martinez, chairman of the Migrante group which works for the millions of Filipino overseas workers worldwide.
“Some of them have nothing to eat and have to go through the garbage for food,” said Martinez.
In Manila, Migrante coordinator Gilbert Saludo — who returned from Saudi Arabia last month after two years working there — said as many as 20,000 Filipinos could be affected.
Indians are among millions of poor Asians working in the Gulf states, where human rights groups say many suffer exploitation and abuses including non-payment of wages.
Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj told parliament in New Delhi she was sending a junior minister to Riyadh after reports that around 10,000 Indian workers had been left to starve.