Kudos: Sushma Swaraj tweets as consulate in Jeddah feeds 10,000 starving Indians in Saudi Arabia

Nearly 10,000 Indian workers, who were recently laid off, and on the brink of starvation for the last three days in Saudi city Jeddah, got some relief after the Indian consulate and community there pitched in to distribute almost 16,000 kilograms of food to them, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted on Sunday morning.

Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh is travelling to the Gulf nation to sort out the issue.

Swaraj said the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia has been directed to serve food to them and that she was monitoring the situation on an hourly basis.

 Kudos: Sushma Swaraj tweets as consulate in Jeddah feeds 10,000 starving Indians in Saudi Arabia

A file photo of Sushma Swaraj. AFP

Her response came following a tweet by a man who said around 800 Indians are starving for the last three days in Jeddah and sought her intervention.

Swaraj said Indians in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were facing various problems relating to their work and wage and that the "matters are much worse" in Saudi Arabia.

She said MoS External Affairs M J Akbar will take up the issue with Kuwait and Saudi authorities.

"My colleagues @Gen_VKSingh will go to Saudi Arabia to sort out these matters and @MJakbar will take up with Kuwait and Saudi authorities.

"As a result our brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are facing extreme hardship," she said, adding while the situation in Kuwait is "manageable", matters are much "worse" in Saudi Arabia.

Later, Swaraj posted pictures of food being provided to the Indian workers.

Meanwhile, an Indian community member who has been actively involved in the food distribution work told IANS over the phone from Jeddah that there are at least seven distribution camps around that Saudi city.

"We have provided food to four camps around Jeddah in the last three days and the remaining three camps will be covered in a day or two," he said.

He said that in the last three days, Indian consulate officials and community members in Jeddah have provided 15,475 kg of foodstuffs besides cooking ingredients and 1,850 readymade food packets. Food was distributed among about 3,000 Indian workers on Saturday, it is learnt.

Low oil prices have forced the Saudi government to slash spending since last year, putting heavy pressure on the finances of local construction firms which rely on state contracts. As a result, some companies have been struggling to pay foreign workers and have laid off tens of thousands, leaving many with no money for food let alone for tickets home.

Workers have been laid off by Saudi Oger, a leading Saudi construction company. The community worker said that there has been a slowdown in the Saudi construction industry because of the fall in global crude oil prices. "Not only Saudi Arabia, it has been happening in all Gulf countries," he said.

While Saudi Arabia has over three million expatriate Indians, there are over 800,000 of them in Kuwait. Most of them are blue collars.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Jul 31, 2016 16:05:40 IST



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