Flights to help Keralites return from Saudi Arabia

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 5 : The Kerala government will charter flights to facilitate the return of its people from Saudi Arabia who will have to leave the country as the amnesty period for illegal migrants ended Monday, a minister said Tuesday.

Addressing reporters here, K.C. Joseph, minister for Kerala diaspora, said the three regional committees of Roots-Norka (state organisation of the non-resident Keralites) based in Saudi Arabia are preparing a list of those who will have to be brought back.

"At the moment we are planning for the flights from there to the three Kerala airports and by Nov 10 the picture would be clear about how many people need to be brought back," Joseph said.

The minister said only 13,714 people had returned till Monday, contrary to reports of a mass exodus from Saudi Arabia from April 4 (when the amnesty came into force).

"While 80 people returned Monday, the number is just 21 Tuesday. We have been told that the Saudi authorities' only aim was to regularise the stay of migrants and it was not meant to reduce the numbers," Joseph said.

According to the first ever state government sponsored survey conducted recently, 88 percent of the 1.63 million Kerala diaspora lives in the Middle East and the UAE leads with 573,289 people followed by 450,229 in Saudi Arabia.

--IANS (Posted on 05-11-2013)

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