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The New Arab Staff

Returning migrants 'will bring coronavirus with them', says Kuwaiti MP

Nearly 70 percent of Kuwait's population are migrants [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 August, 2020

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Kuwaiti MP Muhammad Barak Al-Mutair claimed the government is putting citizens at risk by allowing expats to return.
A Kuwaiti MP urged the government to stop expats from returning to the kingdom, claiming they will contribute to a potential increase in coronavirus cases.

Muhammad Barak Al-Mutair tweeted against the return of expats to Kuwait, claiming the government will be held accountable for any spread in coronavirus cases as a result of letting migrants back in.

"The government must stop the return of expats as soon as possible, otherwise it will bear full responsibility if the disease spreads and we will make it accountable," al-Mutair tweeted.

"Do not yield to the demand of some corrupt merchants, the health of the people is not a game," he added.

The Kuwaiti government on Saturday allowed citizens and migrant workers to travel to and from the oil-rich country for the first time since March.

The Kuwaiti government specified that those coming to it from abroad must present a coronavirus-free certificate as part of its procedures to resume flights.

The certificate must be issued by an accredited laboratory for travellers to be allowed to enter Kuwait.

The validity of the certificate must not exceed 96 hours from the date of taking the sample, according to a statement issued by the Kuwaiti Civil Aviation Administration on Thursday.

Read also: WATCH: Outrage after Kuwaiti man beats Egyptian cashier

Politicians and celebrities in Kuwait have previously used coronavirus to spread racist comments against migrants.

In April, famous actress Hayat al-Fahad, sparked a furore by calling for expatriates to be expelled from Kuwait so that locals can be sure of having a hospital bed if they fall ill with coronavirus.

"We are fed up. If we get sick, there are no hospitals (for us)," she said during a telephone interview. 

"Why, if their countries do not want them, should we deal with them? Aren't people supposed to leave during crises?

"We should send them out... put them in the desert. I am not against humanity, but we have reached a stage where we're fed up."

Foreigners account for nearly 3.4 million of Kuwait's 4.8 million population. They make up around 70 percent of the country's workforce, with 29 percent working in domestic roles, such as domestic workers and drivers.

Kuwait has been slowly working to replace foreigners with nationals in the workforce. But by the end of 2019, only 19 percent of Kuwaitis were working in the private sector.

Kuwait, like other Gulf Arab states, relies on a vast population of foreign workers to fill roles ranging from domestic help, construction work, to white-collar jobs.

Some 35 million foreign workers are employed in the six GCC states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as Jordan and Lebanon, according to UN figures.

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