Saudi Arabia Deports Yemeni Workers from its Territories

Once again, the Saudi authorities continue to use Yemeni labors on their territory as a means of achieving political ends, and it is now using the deportation of Yemeni workers from its southern regions, which will have serious implications for them and the families they support.

In its economic war against Yemen, Saudi Arabia uses collective punishment, without considering the consequences that will impact all areas, whether in Sana’a control or under the control of the pro – Riyadh authorities.

Saudi Arabia renewed the decision to terminate contracts of Yemeni officials in the southern parts of the Kingdom (Asir, Al – Baha, Najran and Jizan). According to various sources, the authorities have issued ultimatums to all Saudi enterprises in the south, which have Yemeni employers, that their contracts and guardianships should be terminated, and they will have to be returned to Yemen in a period not exceeding four months.  The number of Yemeni workers in southern Saudi Arabia is estimated to be 800 thousands, with Riyadh seeking to replace them with workers of other nationalities. According to sources, in addition to Yemeni university professors in the public and private sectors, staff in hospitals and medical establishments, and workers in various businesses.

Yemeni workers in Saudi Arabia must arrange for everything within a few months, which is the time limit given to Yemeni residents in southern Saudi Arabia to leave. Most of them have worked for several years in private or government sectors, are living with their families, and have grandchildren born in the same country, while only some relatives relying on them connect them to Yemen.

Confidential instructions were given by Saudi local authorities to all “sponsors,” to terminate the contracts of employees and retirees of Yemeni nationality, without giving reasons. This follows Yemeni confirmation to Reuters that “hundreds of medical personnel, academics and others in the southern region of the kingdom neighboring Yemen have been informed in the few months. They have been informed in the past few months that they have been laid off. The University of Najran has terminated 100 Yemeni contracts and some 200 other university workers in the south have been laid off. The economic crisis in Yemen has recently reached a record level, with the collapse of the domestic currency of Yemen against foreign exchange.

The head of the Centre for Economic Studies and Information, Mustafa Nasr, criticized the failure of the Yemeni Government to do its part to alleviate the problem and he estimated the return of more than 600,000 workers by the end of this campaign. The number of Yemeni expatriates in Saudi Arabia at 3 million, approximately 10% of Yemen’s total population. Yemeni employment in the Kingdom was the main source of the Yemeni economy during the war.

KSA’s “pre-emptive and discriminatory behavior” contributes to the destruction of the collapsed Yemeni economy

These measures targeted only Yemeni people, which sets a precedent in the relations between the two countries and raises questions about what is behind the resolution.

Leaked documents dated July 27, contained administrative instructions, that Yemeni contracts should not be renewed. The resolutions in Jazan, Asir, Najran and Al-Baha did not exclude Yemeni people born in Saudi Arabia. They also did not exclude Yemeni men married to Saudi Arabia women. Information is being disseminated to employers calling on sponsors to demand the termination of Yemeni contracts and the non-renewal of workers’ contracts of Yemeni nationality.

Yemeni economists fear that the continued displacement of Yemeni labor in this way would end Yemen’s national economy. According to the Yemeni Minister of Industry for Al Jazeera, there are other long-term repercussions for Yemen that will have a significant impact on the economic, social and security aspects of the displacement of Yemeni employment. The most significant consequence was that the national economy had been deprived of an important source of foreign exchange and goods in kind as a result of the decline in Diasporas remittances.

International criticism of the deportation of Yemeni workers

Several Yemeni humanitarian and human rights organisations have criticised the recent Saudi decisions as evidence of the Kingdom’s “pre-emptive and discriminatory behavior” towards Yemeni employment.

A statement issued by the World Federation of Yemeni Communities called the decision “unfair” and stressed that it would “create a new livelihood crisis for thousands of families at home, in addition to the economic crises that Yemen has been experiencing since the start of the war in 2015. Human Rights Watch stressed that the Saudi authorities should suspend the deportation decision, allow the Yemenis to stay in Saudi Arabia and allow them to work there.         

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