Thousands of Ethiopian expatriates in Kuwait have found themselves in a dilemma after their country’s embassy was closed in September, making them unable to renew their passports in due time, according to a Kuwaiti newspaper.
Ethiopia announced closing and downsizing 31 of its diplomatic missions around the world including Kuwait as part of austerity measures.
Around 30,000 to 35,000 Ethiopians, mostly domestic workers, reside in Kuwait.
Many of them had applied to renew their passports, a step necessary for them to renew their residency permits, before the embassy’s closure, Al Anba newspaper reported.
As a result of their inability to get their renewed passports, many such Ethiopians are liable to a fine of KD2 per day, imposed by Kuwaiti authorities, for failure to renew their residency permits, Al Rai quoted what it termed as well-informed sources.
“Some sponsors may refuse to pay these fines for their employees because they were not the reason for them. So, each employee may have to pay the fine for the residency violation, a matter that may result in his/her departure from work or escape from the sponsor,” a source said.
The paper quoted a Kuwaiti citizen as saying that he had applied to renew passports of his two Ethiopian domestic helpers three months before their expiry dates, but so far he has no idea about their fate after the embassy’s shutdown.
Ethiopian Ambassador to Kuwait Hassan Taju told Al Rai that they are still awaiting instructions from his country’s Foreign Ministry, adding he has information that all passports presented for renewal will be sent to the Ethiopian embassy in Saudi Arabia for processing and that the mission there will announce the delivery mechanism./agencies