New Delhi: Over 10,000 Indian workers in Saudi Arabia are facing a “food crisis”, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Saturday. ”The number of Indian workers facing food crisis in Saudi Arabia is over Ten Thousand,” Sushma Swaraj said in a tweet. Meanwhile Swaraj said the Indian Embassy has been directed to serve them food and External Affairs MoS V K Singh is travelling to Saudi Arabia to sort out the issue.
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.
"I assure you that no Indian worker rendered unemployed in Saudi Arabia will go without food. I am monitoring this on hourly basis," she said. Swaraj said a large number of Indians have lost their jobs in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and that their employers have not paid wages and closed down their factories. "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 to a news agency 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. These 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.