NEW DELHI – India’s foreign minister said the government is providing food aid to thousands of Indian workers in Saudi Arabia who are not able to buy food after losing their jobs in the kingdom.
Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said in a series of tweets over the weekend that the Indian Embassy in Riyadh would ensure that no laid-off worker went without food. A junior government minister will also travel to Saudi Arabia to begin the process of flying home the workers who don’t have the money to pay for airfare.
The workers are mostly employed by Saudi construction companies. The industry has slowed down because of low global prices. Swaraj said India has more than 10,000 such workers in Saudi Arabia.
Indian news reports say that many of the workers have not been paid for months.
The Indian Consulate in the Saudi city of Jeddah posted photos of workers lining up for free food packets.
Swaraj said that while there were also reports of Indian workers in Kuwait losing their jobs, the situation in Saudi Arabia was worse. “While situation in Kuwait is manageable, matters are much worse in Saudi Arabia,” she said in a tweet.
Hundreds of thousands of Indian workers travel to the Middle East each year for better-paying jobs than back home, working as labourers, electricians and drivers. They endure substandard living and working conditions in order to send money back to their impoverished families in India.