V K Singh leaves for Saudi Arabia

New Delhi: With thousands of Indians reeling under severe financial crisis in Saudi Arabia after losing their jobs, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh tonight left for the Gulf nation to assess the situation and finalise modalities to bring back those who want to return to India.

Ahead of Singh’s visit, the Indian embassy there has launched an initiative to collect details of the Indians laid off by their employers.

Currently, a total of 7,700 affected Indian workers are living in 20 camps and the embassy is in the process of collecting information about others residing in different parts of Saudi Arabia.

Singh left for Jeddah tonight and MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said his on-the-ground assessment will determine future course of action.

Thousands of Indian workers have lost their jobs due to slowdown in Saudi economy, triggered by low oil prices and cut in spending by government of that country. The Indian mission has provided food to the Indians who cannot buy it.

Earlier today, Singh’s ministerial colleague in the MEA M J Akbar, who looks after issues relating to the Gulf region, met Saudi Ambassador Saud bin Mohammed Al Sati and discussed the difficulties being faced by Indians who have lost their jobs.

“Had fruitful discussions with Saudi Ambassador to India Dr. Saud bin Mohammed Al Sati on all bilateral issues.

“Glad to receive support and assurances from Saudi government to resolve all outstanding issues, including that of our Indian labourers,” Akbar said in a series of tweets.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had yesterday said that all affected Indians will be brought back.

A team from the Indian embassy had yesterday met Saudi labour officials to complete procedures relating to the protection of legal dues of the workers once they have departed from the country.

Swarup said the Indian embassy in Riyadh convened a meeting of community social workers and volunteers yesterday, where the Ambassador sought their help in collecting information about the affected workers.

They were provided a proforma on which the requisite information is to be submitted to the embassy. .