Thousands undocumented migrants, OFWs affected by Saudi’s SIM card registration policy

WITH Saudi’s Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) full implementation of a new regulation requiring its customers to register or update their personal information to avoid disruption of their SIM card services, thousands of undocumented or illegal migrants were affected by this new regulation according to a Filipino migrant rights group.

Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said there are estimated 10 million migrants workers in Saudi Arabia. India got the most number, followed by Pakistan, Egyptian, and then OFWs. A conservative estimate of 4 percent (4%) out of 10-M are undocumented.

The new regulation, which was announced as early as July this year, requires customers to input their national identification number (Iqama) immediately after entering their prepaid card number to charge SIM cards, recharge, or transfer balances.

In compliance to this regulation, Saudi telecommunication companies imposed a deadline day last week that face disconnection of SIM card services of customers who failed to follow to register or update the information required.

Monterona said, “This is an internal policy of the host government that we fully respect and abide.”

Monterona, however, added that it is a common knowledge that there are thousands of undocumented migrants, including OFWs, in Saudi Arabia.

“Obviously, the Iqama or identification card of an undocumented is expired, and then he or she could not update or register his personal information to continue or get a new SIM card,” he explained.

Because of this, many undocumented OFWs just like other undocumented migrant workers are having a hard time to make phone calls especially to their families in the Philippines, according to Monterona.

“Some of the distressed and undocumented OFWs we are helping also asked us for credit load transfer so that they can call us or their families during Christmas and New Year,” Monterona revealed.

According to Monterona, there are estimated 10 million migrants workers in Saudi Arabia. India got the most number, followed by Pakistan, Egyptian, and then OFWs. A conservative estimate of 4 percent (4%) out of 10-M are undocumented.

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