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First batch of retrenched Indian workers return from Saudi Arabia

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Indian worker

New Delhi/Jeddah, Aug 11 : As the first batch of 26 retrenched Indian workers were on their way back home from Jeddah on Thursday, India appreciated Saudi Arabia’s prompt action to provide relief to distressed Indian workers in the Gulf kingdom.

“We appreciate the magnanimous view taken by the Saudi Arabian government of granting exit visas expeditiously and agreeing to bear the expenses for the travel of the workers,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in his weekly media briefing in New Delhi.

“The swift action to tackle a localised problem specific only to some companies of Saudi Arabia signifies the deep and abiding relationship that our two countries share,” he said.

Following reports of retrenchment of the workers by the Saudi Oger company, Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh visited Saudi Arabia last week.

According to Swarup, Singh “had very productive meetings” with the Saudi Minister for Labour and Social Development Mufrel Al Haqbani and other senior dignitaries.

“As a result of these meetings, the process of lodging claims and making arrangements for those Indian workers wishing to come back to India or relocate to another company has already started,” the spokesperson said.

The crisis also saw Saudi King Salman issuing a series of directives to address their problems, and earmarking 100 million Saudi Riyals ($26 million) to address the concerns of the workers and end their suffering.

King Salman also directed the Saudi passport department to facilitate exit visas and other procedures for the distressed workers.

Swarup said in his media briefing that the first batch of 26 Indian workers left Jeddah for New Delhi on Thursday by a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight.

“Once they arrive, respective state governments will be making arrangements for their travel to their home towns,” he added.

The workers, who were brought to the airport in a bus by the Indian consulate in Jeddah, were seen off by Consul General Noor Rahman Sheikh, and senior officials Anand Kumar and M. Fahmi.

Many of the workers, including Hindus, at the airport on Thursday morning were seen carrying the holy waters of Zamzam in bottles for friends and relatives back home. The Saudi Labour Ministry had announced free passage for workers who were willing to return home.

Though Indian consulate officials have assured the workers that they will pursue financial claims on their behalf, most appeared confused and apprehensive about what lay ahead — including the onward journey to their states from New Delhi.

“It is saddening to leave Saudi Arabia as I made some money earlier; but now the chances are grim,” said Ram Nivas, a plumber from Churu district in Rajasthan.

“Due to non-payment of wages, there was no meaning in continuing the job,” said Nasir Raza of Gaya district in Bihar, who had returned to Saudi Arabia only recently after a vacation, is now leaving for good.

“I have full faith in both the governments of Saudi Arabia and India and I have authorised them to collect my pending arrears and send them to me in India,” said Musharaf Ali, a driver hailing from Meerut in Uttar Pradesh who has been here for eight years.

“I had heart surgery and the huge expenses were borne by the now ill-fated company. I had enjoyed working there. Though there was the option to seek new employment, I prefer to return home,” said Shakir Ahmed, a resident of Patna in Bihar.

“When I arrived three years ago I felt so happy to be part of such a large company, but the situation worsened and it is sad to return home. I love the country,” said V. Ram Prasad of Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.

The lists of workers who are being repatriated at their request are being prepared by Indian diplomats in coordination with Saudi Labour Ministry officials. Many Indian workers are opting to return home, according to sources.

Middle East

More advanced equipment to replace damaged part of Iran n-site

Natanz, located some 250 km south of Tehran, includes underground facilities buried under some 25 feet of concrete, which offers protection from airstrikes.

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Iran Nuclear Power Plant

Tehran, July 6 : A new and more advanced structure will be built at Iran”s Natanz nuclear facility to replace the one damaged in a recent fire “incident”, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said on Monday.

“Necessary arrangements have been made to rebuild the damaged shed at Shahid Ahmadi Roshan (Natanz) nuclear facility and a bigger shed with more advanced equipment is to replace it,” the spokesman, Behrouz Kamalvandi said.

More centrifuge machines were supposed to be produced at the damaged shed, Kamalvandi said, adding that parts of measurement and precision tools in the shed were destroyed and damaged in the “incident”, reports Xinhua news agency

The “incident” has not caused hindrance in Iran”s enrichment work, although it may slow down development and manufacture of advanced machines in the medium term, he said.

“We would make up for this slowdown through round-the-clock work and diligent efforts of our colleagues at the organization.”

On July 2, Iran announced that the fire at the Natanz nuclear facility caused no damage to the establishment, but it affected one of the structures for storing stock items.

The next day, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) saidthat the country”s experts had determined the main cause of “incident” and would announce it at an “appropriate time”.

Natanz, located some 250 km south of Tehran, includes underground facilities buried under some 25 feet of concrete, which offers protection from airstrikes.

The facility is a Fuel Enrichment Plant covering 100,000 square meters.

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Iraq confirms 2,312 new Covid-19 cases; 102 more deaths

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, Iraq has been taking measures to contain the pandemic.

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Saudi Arabia Coronavirus Covid 19

Baghdad, July 4 : Iraqi Health Ministry on Friday confirmed 2,312 new Covid-19 cases, as the total number of infections climbed to 56,020.

The ministry also confirmed 102 more deaths, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 2,262 in the country, Xinhua reported.

It also said that 1,688 people recovered during the day, bringing the total recoveries from the disease to 29,600.

The new cases were recorded after 12,176 testing kits were used across the country during the past 24 hours, and a total of 579,861 tests have been carried out since the outbreak of the disease, according to the ministry”s statement.

The ministry frequently attributed the recent increase of COVID-19 infections to the lack of compliance of the citizens to the health instructions, as well as to the increase in the testing capacity due to the increase of labs in Baghdad and the other Iraqi provinces.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, Iraq has been taking measures to contain the pandemic.

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Middle East

Turkey to extend wage support for another month amid COVID-19

Turkey conducted 51,014 tests for coronavirus in the last 24 hours, bringing the overall number of tests carried out so far to 3,331,158, he stated.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Ankara, June 30 : Turkey will extend a wage support system for one more month to ease the impact of COVID-19, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced.

The government will also extend a financial aid program for low-income families for one more month, Erdogan told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.

The wage support system, which covers the workers whose working hours are reduced by their employers, was introduced in March for three months just after Turkey introduced strict measures to tackle the virus outbreak.

The Turkish president also said Turkey will deliver an aid package to Iraq on Tuesday.

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Monday reported 1,374 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infections in the country to 198,613.

In a single day, 18 more patients died, taking the death toll to 5,115 in Turkey, the minister tweeted.

Turkey conducted 51,014 tests for coronavirus in the last 24 hours, bringing the overall number of tests carried out so far to 3,331,158, he stated.

Koca said that a total of 171,809 patients have recovered in the country since the outbreak after 1,214 more recoveries were added in the last 24 hours.

Meanwhile, 1,018 patients are being treated at the intensive care units and 375 being intubated, he added.

Turkey reported the first COVID-19 case in the country on March 11.

Turkey and China have supported each other in the fight against COVID-19. Chinese doctors and medical experts held a video conference with Turkish counterparts to share China”s experience in treating coronavirus patients, protecting medical workers, and controlling the spread of the virus.

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