23% of Gulf expatriates held up in Kerala with distant hope of return

Photo: CIAL

Thiruvananthapuram: As many as 23 per cent of the Gulf expatriates, who returned to Kerala during the height of COVID crisis, are now held up in the State without being able to go back.

Out of the 14.71 lakh people who came back, 3.32 lakh failed to go back to the Gulf, according to a survey conducted by the Centre for Development Studies.

Of this population, 71 per cent of them are unemployed. Some people are engaged in temporary jobs or small-time businesses. Some people became autorickshaw drivers.

As many as 88 per cent of them opined that it was better to go back to the Gulf for securing permanent jobs and steady income.

The survey was conducted among 404 people living in six panchayats and five municipalities from the districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta, Kannur, Kozhikode and Malappuram by a team led by Dr B A Prakash.

Half of these Guld returnees used to send Rs 12,000 to Rs 20,000 while they were working in the Gulf. About 25 per cent of such people used to send more than Rs 20,000. About one fifth of them are BPL ration card holders. Except for five families, most of them took loans either from banks or from individuals for survival.

Why they returned

The main reasons for their return included hike in fee for residency permit and work permit by Saudi Arabia, regulations and restrictions with regard to international travel, contradictions in vaccination rules, the new migration policy of Gulf countries avoiding unskilled and semi-unskilled, and the new tendency of employing labourers from other countries.

Their demands

Their demands included disbursal of bank loan for enabling their Gulf return, interest-free loan of Rs 5 lakh for self-employment programmes and small-time business ventures, granting NORKA loan for more people, converting APL cards to BPL card for those eligible candidates and declaration stimulus package for Malappuram, Kozhikode and Kannur districts. 

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