47,000 illegal Sudanese residents return from Saudi Arabia

Around 47,000 Sudanese citizens thought to be illegal residents in Saudi Arabia have been leaving various cities in the Kingdom and returning to Khartoum, the Organisation of Sudanese Expatriates Affairs (OSEA) has said.

Speaking at a press conference in the Sudanese capital at the weekend, Secretary-General of OSEA, Kamar Al-Tuhami, told news outlets: “Around 33,000 Sudanese have begun returning from Riyadh and 14,000 from Jeddah; 60 per cent of them [are] workers and craftsmen and should all be here by Monday at the latest.”

The returnees were detected in the Saudi authorities’ campaign, “Nation without Violators,” which allows illegal residents to leave the country without facing fines or undergoing the fingerprint system. They were given three months starting 29 March this year to update their status or face forceful deportation or imprisonment.

The OSEA has downplayed the impact of returnees who provide an important source of income from family members in Sudan: “We are working to avoid any economic impact for the return of this great number [of people]. All the state’s bodies and institutions are working harmoniously to reintegrate the returnees into society,” Al-Tuhami said.

The latest Saudi campaign was an extension of an operation launched three years ago and has resulted in more that 2.5 million people from various countries being deported or leaving. Many of those caught entered Saudi Arabia on Hajj and Umrah travel documents and did not return.