India Rescues 10,000 Starving Workers In Saudi

Neville Lazarus, Sky Reporter in India

The Indian government has come to the rescue of more than 10,000 of their starving citizens in Saudi Arabia.

Some 16,000kg of food was distributed on Saturday night by the consulate to penniless workers who've lost their jobs and not been paid.

The issue came to light when a man tweeted India's foreign minister Sushma Swaraj saying around 800 Indians had not eaten for three days in Jeddah, asking her to intervene.

Investigations found that there were thousands starving across Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Ms Swaraj instructed the consulate to make sure no unemployed worker is to go without food, and is said to have monitored the situation on an hourly basis.

She tweeted: "Large number of Indians have lost their jobs in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The employers have not paid wages, closed down their factories.

"The number of Indian workers facing food crisis in Saudi Arabia is over ten thousand."

Many workers in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have been living in inhumane conditions after losing their jobs. Hundreds have been laid off without being paid their wages.

Indian newspapers reported that one firm - the Saudi Oger company - did not pay wages for seven months. Of its 50,000 employees, 4,000 were Indians.

India's Consul General Mohammad Noor Rehman Sheikh, told a news agency: "For the last seven months these Indian workers of Saudi Oger were not getting their salaries and the company had also stopped providing food to these workers."

The Saudi government says it will investigate complaints against companies not paying wages and will fine them if proven.

The Indian government is now putting in place a plan to evacuate a large number of Indians from the oil rich countries.

India's junior foreign minister VK Singh has been tasked to travel to Saudi Arabia to put in place an evacuation process which is due to begin soon.

He had successfully led the evacuation of a large number of Indians from war-torn Yemen and most recently from South Sudan.

There are more than three million Indians living and working in Saudi Arabia and more than 800,000 in Kuwait.

Falling oil prices have hit the economy of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.

This has had a domino effect particularly on the construction sector which relies heavily on state contracts and patronage.