Hyderabad, Feb 17 (IANS) Another group of migrants from Andhra Pradesh granted amnesty for overstaying in the United Arab Emirates returned home Sunday.
Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and NRI Affairs Minister D. Sridhar Babu consoled the 17 people at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport here. The workers from Dubai flew back with the help of the state government and voluntary groups.
Kiran Kumar Reddy assured them that they will be given top priority in government welfare programmes like housing and employment, said a statement from the Chief Minister's Office.
According to the statement, the government is making efforts to bring back about 300 "Gulf victims".
An official team is already in the Gulf, coordinating the efforts to bring back those stranded in the Gulf states. The entire expenditure for their return home is being borne by the state government, it said.
Sridhar Babu told reporters that 1,000 migrants stuck up in the UAE have approached the state government for help.
The migrants, mostly unskilled labourers from various districts, were stuck after their visas expired or agents cheated them.
This was the third group of migrants to return home since last week. The first group had 14 people and the second 20.
The Indian Migrants Rights and Welfare Forum and other voluntary organisations have also come forward to help the migrants.
Forum president K. Narasimham Naidu, who visited Dubai a few days ago, said he found that 200 Indians, including 71 from Andhra Pradesh, needed help to return to their native places.
Naidu said he was trying to rope in voluntary agencies and cultural groups to bring back more migrants.
He said the Indian government should request the UAE authorities to extend the amnesty as many illegal migrants could not apply for it.
According to Migrants Rights Council, a voluntary organisation, 18,000 workers from the state were languishing in the UAE.
However, only a few availed of the amnesty declared by the UAE government from Dec 4 to Feb 3 that allowed the illegal migrants to forego the mandatory imprisonment and penalty and return to their homeland.
However, the majority of those who applied for amnesty have no money to afford flight tickets. Most claimed that the agents cheated them by promising high-paying jobs.