DIPLOMATS have been processing ‘exit documents’ for an average of 60 Bangladeshi nationals a day in the last three weeks, the GDN has learnt.
Bangladesh Embassy officials said out-passes have been issued for the undocumented workers as part of a major security operation underway in Bahrain.
The GDN reported on August 21 that hundreds of illegal expatriates from across the country have been rounded up as part of the latest crackdown on the so-called free-visa market, which sources at the time described as “the biggest and most intensified” campaign to date.
It aimed to reduce the rampant problem of illegal workers and associated crimes.
“Police raids are happening all over Bahrain and as we understand a number of illegal Bangladeshi nationals have been arrested, and are detained for deportation,” Bangladesh Embassy labour consul Shaikh Tahidul Islam told the GDN.
“We have received requests for out-passes to be issued for these people as they don’t have passports or CPRs for various reasons.
“On an average in the past three weeks, we have received around 60 to 70 such requests daily from local authorities.
“In addition to this, individuals have also been approaching us asking for out-passes, obviously who have no personal documents and do not wish to be detained for deportation.”
Mr Islam also said that an unusual rise in the number of applications for the Flexible Work Permit has been registered at the embassy.
Launched in July last year, the Flexible Work Permit allows expatriates with expired or terminated work visas to sponsor themselves by paying a total of BD1,169 for a renewable two-year residency permit.
“There is an overwhelming increase in the number of applications for flexi permits,” added Mr Islam.
“We currently have requests for 10,000 applications that are on hold as they are in process with the LMRA.
“Availing of the flexi permit is one way to legalise residency status and hence the rush, which is a good sign that people are aware and are acting, unlike before.”
There is an estimated 60,000 illegal expatriates living in Bahrain. Bangladeshis are the second largest expatriate community in Bahrain with over 200,000 workers, with majority of them falling under the undocumented category because of residency violations.
The GDN last month quoted well-placed sources confirming that police officials in co-operation with other government agencies have detained more than 300 illegal workers, mainly Bangladeshis, from all four governorates since early August.
Bangladesh’s Ambassador to Bahrain Major General (Rtd) K M Mominur Rahman previously told the GDN that he supported the crackdown, adding that it targeted criminals such as illegal residents and those running gambling dens.
Security inspections were stepped up following the brutal murder of Bahraini imam Shaikh Abduljalil Hmood on August 4 by a Bangladeshi muezzin (prayer caller) in Muharraq.
Seven people, including the 39-year-old muezzin, have been remanded in custody pending a trial.