Over 2 lakh Bangladeshi workers in Kuwait will have to come back the country within next couple of months as the Kuwait government announced a big repatriation of foreign unskilled workers.

Kuwait’s PM on Sunday has said the country’s expatriate population should be more than halved to 30% of the total, as the coronavirus pandemic and a slump in oil prices send shudders through Gulf economies.

Foreigners account for nearly 3.4 million of Kuwait’s 4.8 million people, and “we have a future challenge to redress this imbalance,” Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah told, according to an official statement carried by state-run KUNA.

The comments are a rare public acknowledgment by the executive of one of Kuwait’s most contentious issues, and follow a renewed push by lawmakers to reduce the number of overseas workers, particularly unskilled labor, with the economy under intense strain.

There are 350,000 Bangladeshi migrant workers in Kuwait, according to embassy data.

Meanwhile discussions have been taking place with Kuwaiti authorities for last month to start the repatriation process as soon as possible as many Bangladeshi citizen living in Kuwait in unhygienic camps, Bangladesh’s Ambassador to Kuwait S.M. Abul Kalam said.

“We are expecting to receive the approved list of migrants very soon and hope to start the repatriation from next week,” he told Arab News.

It follows a decision by the Kuwaiti government to declare a general amnesty for all undocumented migrant workers, with those accepting the offer to be allowed re-entry into the country after being repatriated.

But there were protests last week night after two workers died at two separate camps in the area, with workers from other South Asian countries joining the demonstrations to demand early repatriation, food, and healthcare facilities.

Kalam said there could have been a shortage of food and essential supplies, as a lot of workers had been housed in the camps under emergency circumstances.

“The embassy intervenes immediately whenever it receives any such information,” he said. Another issue was to limit the spread of coronavirus among the workers, he added, so all passengers would be tested before their flight and issued health certificates.

In Kuwait, at least 650,000 expatriates, mostly from the Philippines, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, are employed as domestic workers alone.

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