Dubai Government launched a 6-day amnesty on December 4 to help the thousands of illegal immigrants in the country to secure exit permits or legalise their residency. Reports from across the country state that the response has been much lower than expected. Just about a thousand Indians have applied for the relief, a striking low compared to the 40,000 who received relief and 176,000 workers whose status was made legal in the amnesty of 2007.
Reasons for the lack of response are expected to be fear and uncertainty about consequences or due to severe debt. People who are tangled in debt cases and loans are in a tight spot and cannot leave nor can they legalise their residency, while people who are simply unaware of the country’s laws remain unsure of what to do and are delaying action. Indian Ambassador to the UAE, M.K. Lokesh expressed his hope that many more will apply to return back to India before the amnesty ends.
Crusaders of amnesty
C.P. Mathew, the founder of NGO Valley of Love (VoL) revealed that in the amnesty of 2007 were mostly blue-collar workers. However, this time a majority of cases are middle class families suffering with unemployment, bad debt, fraud cases, illegal residency and medical bills. VoL receives about 10-15 calls from people everyday on these issues.
There are several organisations and people like the VoL who are reaching out to people in desperate need of amnesty. The Kerala Muslim Culture Centre and several Parishes are helping people within their communities to get legal advice and aid.
Emarati businessman-philanthropist, Ali Saif of the Ali Saif Group of Companies, has been helping people for years and says amnesties are provided to help people, especially those incapable to helping themselves and suffering serious illnesses. His advise is to surrender to the authorities earlier and trust that they will help in the best way possible.
Amnesty ends on February 4th. If you know anyone who is in a difficult legal situation encourage him or her to appeal to authorities at the earliest.