Addu City Council has started a major operation to locate illegal expatriate workers in the city as of yesterday (May 13).
The council has teamed up with the army, police, and immigration department to conduct a weekly operation in all the islands, according to local media Haveeru.
Mohamed Fathuhy, an official from the immigration department in Addu, said the operation was initiated due to various complaints received about the illegal immigrants in the city.
“We have received a large number of complaints from different work sites about illegal immigrants working there. So our teams will go to those sites and attain all information regarding those immigrants,” he said.
According to Haveeru, Fathuhy said that a key part of the programme will be identifying the illegal worker’s employers, and giving them the means to register their workers legally.
“We will provide extensive information and advice on legalising the immigrants. After that, if we catch the immigrants still active out of the system, we will take strict measures as per regulations,” he said.
The programme in Addu is part of a wider movement across the Maldives to address illegal expatriate workers. In March 2014 the Department of Immigration and Emigration pledged to strengthen action on employers of illegal workers, after having initiated a voluntary repatriation programme.
Deputy CEO of Immigration Abdulla Munaz stated at the time that the department was strengthening the implementation of existing regulations because the provision of employment and shelter is a major cause is rising numbers of undocumented workers in the country.
In addition to the estimated 200,000 migrant workers employed in the Maldives, the number of undocumented workers have been estimated to be as high as 44,000. Many workers live in congested labor quarters owned by locals.