7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Local News

Victims duped over fake jobs

MANY expatriates who travel to Bahrain for specific jobs find themselves abandoned at the airport, it emerged yesterday. Bangladeshi Embassy Interim Charge d'Affaires Masudur Rahman said the victims often pay huge fees for visas to come to the country after being promised work with a local sponsor. However, when they arrive no one is there to collect them and workers later discover the job they were brought in for was fictitious, he said.

Mr Rahman said this meant expatriates were left with nowhere to stay and forced to find alternative work to survive.

"They buy a visa from their sponsor, but after that in the airport there is nobody waiting for them and they are alone," he said.

"This is a common scenario with regard to many illegal workers, irrespective of which country they come from.

"It may happen more for people from some countries and less for others, but it does happen."

He was speaking four days into the start of the general amnesty, which began on August 1.

The five-month amnesty, which began last Wednesday, aims to help thousands of people who came into the country on visit visas and stayed after their documents expired or whose sponsors failed to renew their papers.

It will run until December 31, and allow illegal immigrants to legalise their stay or leave the country without penalty.

"The amnesty is built as a scheme to benefit workers, but many employers will also benefit," said Mr Rahman.

"It relieves them of some obligations and no questions will be raised about the sponsors or employers."

One such victim of the scam was Bangladeshi Tofazzal Hussain, who has been in Bahrain for 10 years.

The 30-year-old arrived at the embassy yesterday in the hope of being able to take advantage of the amnesty for expatriate workers.

Mr Hussain paid around BD800 for a visa after being brought to the country in 1997 as a domestic worker for a Bahraini family.

However, he found the job did not exist and was forced to wash cars, tend villa gardens and find work in construction sites to survive. Mr Hussain, who is unmarried and the only breadwinner in his family, says he managed to send home around BD15 a month in the first few years and also paid off the loan he took from a relative to pay for his visa.

However, he later became physically unwell and has struggled to find regular work in the last four years, only earning enough to cover his living costs.

Mr Hussain, from Chandpur district in central Bangladesh, is delighted to have the chance to return home as he said he would have been unable to pay his overstay fine.

Mr Rahman said judging from applications the embassy has already received, it was evident that many workers wanted to return home, rather than legalise their stay.

"In most cases their passport is either lost, damaged or has been retained by their sponsor," he said.

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