Muscat: The Royal Oman Police (ROP) yesterday deported 558 undocumented expatriate workers, who had entered the Sultanate without any valid documents.
According to a statement issued by the ROP, the undocumented workers were sent by boat from Sultan Qaboos Port in Muscat to their home country.
Even though the statement released by the ROP conceals the nationalities of the deported workers, the photographs released reveal that most of the deportees were of Pakistani origin.
"They were arrested and tried in a court of law, which ruled in favour of their deportation to their home country," a top official said in the statement.
"Most of them had arrived via sea route and were sent back on the same route," he added. "All legal procedures in accordance with international conventions were followed in dealing with the infiltrators. The Sultanate coordinated with the concerned embassy to establish the identity of the deportees before they were sent back home," he stated.
According to the police, these kinds of undocumented workers are largely responsible for the increase in crimes, including robberies and drug trafficking. The police are seeking the cooperation of every citizen and expatriate in fighting the menace of illegal
"People can report the presence of illegal residents by calling the ROP on 9999 or by filing a complaint at the nearest police station," he added.
Recently, some boats that were used to smuggle infiltrators were confiscated.
According to a top Coast Guard official, in 2012, the Coast Guard had arrested 645 immigrants at sea, who were trying to enter Oman without valid papers.
"The attempts to smuggle immigrants into the country have been occurring more often in the North and South Batinah governorates, compared with other governorates, resulting in the Police Coast Guard intensifying its patrols in these areas, 24 hours a day," the official explained.
By the end of January, the ROP, in cooperation with other security forces, had arrested 343 undocumented workers, who had entered the Sultanate without valid papers. Of those arrested, 53 were deported to their home countries, after completing the necessary legal procedures with the help of their embassies and consulate offices in the Sultanate.
By mid-January, the ROP had also apprehended 113 immigrants of various nationalities, who had illegally crossed the border into the country. They were detained in Muscat, Musandam, and several other towns in the Sultanate. Thirteen were deported after their documents were processed.
In 2012, security authorities had arrested over 3,400 people, who had entered the country for the purpose of working in the Sultanate and in other GCC countries without any valid papers.
Over the last few months, the police and Coast Guard have launched an offensive against illegal immigrants. For almost a decade now, Oman has been trying to head off human traffickers, who take advantage of its 1,600-km coastline, especially along the northern coast, to smuggle immigrants into the country by boat.