Illegal expat children in Saudi Arabia a ‘ticking time bomb’

Authorities warn of the grave consequences of these children being deprived of an education

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A member of the Saudi National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) has warned that children of undocumented workers could pose great risks to society if left without any form of education, the Makkah daily reported on Saturday.

Dr. Muhammad al-Sehli, director of the Islamic Studies Center at the School of Shariah, Umm al-Qura University, said children born to parents who violate residency regulations do not go to school and spend a great amount of time on the street where they develop dangerous behavior problems.

“The problem is that these children tend to hang out in groups and get influenced by bad behavior,” Sehli said.

“They resemble a ticking time bomb and if left without any form of behavioral adjustment programs or education, they are prone to succumbing to a criminal lifestyle,” he added.

Sehli said the children, regardless of their age, should be given more attention by authorities, which should form committees from different government departments and ask them to study the situation of undocumented workers’ children.

“Makkah alone is home to a huge number of African children. The situation has become clearer when several unplanned neighborhoods were torn down for development. Many of the undocumented workers and their children had to move out,” Sehli said.

“When they were living in unplanned neighborhoods, they went unnoticed. But now that most of the buildings have been demolished for land development purposes, a large number of African children can be seen on the streets of Makkah.”

Makkah Police Superintendent Maj. Gen. Assaf al-Qurashi said they will continue to cooperate with pertinent authorities to crack down on residency regulation violators. Many violators have been nabbed in north Makkah, he said.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on March 2, 2014.

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