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Over 170,000 Burmese legalize residency status

Thousands of Rohingya helpless after violence in Myanmar (Photo: Al Jazeera)

March 16, 2015

JEDDAH — More than 170,000 Burmese nationals who have been living in the Kingdom without identity papers have been issued with free iqamas (residence permits), Al-Hayat reported on Sunday.

“We have turned our dream of legal residence in Saudi Arabia into reality thanks to the correction procedures for the Burmese community approved by the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques,” community leader in Makkah Abu Al-Shamie Abdulmajeed said.

He said about 250,000 Burmese were recognized as Rohingyas who fled their country long ago to escape persecution from the authorities in Myanmar.

“The Rohingyas have been living in Saudi Arabia for up to 70 years without official identity papers,” he added.

Abdulmajeed said the iqamas have solved a number of problems for the Burmese and will enable them to work, obtain medical services and join government schools from elementary to secondary stages.

“We can now move freely and join the general education system instead of obtaining education at the private charity schools,” he said.

According to him, the Burmese were recognized by a correction committee from the Makkah Governorate.

He said the majority of the Burmese live in Makkah.

Majeed, however, said their dream of going back home has forever vanished because of the persecution against Muslims still ongoing in Myanmar.

He said most of the Burmese work in the field of construction and teach the Holy Qur’an in memorization rings.

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