Authorities in Saudi Arabia have deported more than 200,000 illegal workers over the past three months, it was reported on Wednesday.
English language newspaper Arab News, citing the kingdom’s Passport Department, said that an unspecified number of Syrians were among those that had been forced out of the Gulf country due to invalid work visas.
However, the department said that those who were deported were not necessarily repatriated back to their own country. Syria is currently amid a two-year long bloody uprising against the rule of Bashar Al-Assad.
“Saudi Arabia will not force violating workers to travel to a certain country,” spokesman Badr Al-Malik was quoted as saying.
Saudi Arabia has been deporting illegal foreign workers as part of labour market reforms designed to reduce unemployment among its own citizens, which is about 12 percent.
Measures include the Ministry of Labour hiring more than 1,000 inspectors to root out illegal workers in the Gulf’s most populous nation, which is highly dependent on foreign labour.
In order to boost employment among Saudi nationals, authorities have also begun dishing out fines to private sector companies that employ below a certain quota of citizens.