Nov 15 - Tensions are running high in Saudi Arabia as authorities there clamp down on a black market in cheap foreign labour, with clashes between workers and police resulting in several deaths. David Pollard reports.
The start of a long journey home. But not one these workers wanted. They're among thousands of foreign labourers being forced to leave. The reason: incorrect paperwork. Saudi authorities are cracking down hard on a black market in cheap labour. There are an estimated nine million foreigners in Riyadh and across the country. Those workers without visas were given seven months to apply. But that amnesty has now expired. Some, 'though, say they won't budge. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) ETHIOPIAN WORKER IN SAUDI ARABIA, ABDULRAHMMAN, SAYING: "We will not leave from here until the Embassy comes and human rights are observed. We don't want to go anywhere." Tens of thousands have already been deported. Police raids rounding them up have spilled into street clashes - with several people killed and more injured - in Riyadh, Mecca and Jeddah. Locals say they're scared. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SYRIAN WOMAN LIVING IN MANFOUHA DISTRICT, AUM DAL'AA, SAYING: "There is no more bread left in our home and we are afraid to travel from the house to the store to buy more. Must we die from hunger because of these events?" Saudi Arabia is the world's biggest oil exporter. The crackdown is aimed at giving its own people more jobs. Along with deportation, penalties for not having the right paperwork also include prison.