Problems of Afghan workers in Saudi Arabia still unresolved

Wednesday, 24 May 2017 03:45 Written by  Heart of Asia Read 430 times

For decades, hundreds of thousands of Afghans have been toiling in Saudi Arabia to earn a living for their families back home. Some of these Afghan laborers have either traveled to Saudi Arabia on Pakistani passports or have been denied work visas by the Saudi government; therefore, their rights are mostly trampled or even they are not paid their wages. 


The previous government failed to resolve these problems mostly because of lack of cooperation from Saudi Arabia other than the Afghan government’s weakness; however, the National Unity Government (NUG) promised to tackle the issue soon after taking over the power. Following his visit to the oil-rich Middle Eastern country, President Ashraf Ghani said he had been assured by Saudi officials that the issue would be addressed. But it remains unresolved even two years and a half after the promise. Afghan workers continue to face problems, and they are still denied work visas by Saudi Arabia. They have troubles collecting their wages, and some of them are not allowed to directly travel to Afghanistan. 

On the sidelines of the recent counterterrorism summit in Riyadh, President Ghani has once again taken up the issue with Saudi King, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The Presidential Palace has said in a press statement that King Salman has ordered the country’s crown prince to take immediate actions to lift the work visa restrictions slapped on Afghans in Saudi Arabia. 

While Saudi may not have a logical reason to refuse to issue work visas to Afghans, it deprives Afghan workers of their legal rights. The Afghan government should feel a sense of responsibility to find an appropriate solution to the long-running problem. If the government cannot provide work opportunities for its people in the country, it should at least protect the rights of its citizens in other countries who have been supporting their families through legal ways andrigorous physical work. Also as a country built by foreign Muslim workers, Saudi Arabia should also not divest workers of their rights and work visas. 


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