KUWAIT: The government explained to lawmakers its guidelines of easing the total lockdown in the country from Sunday including the gradual return of employees to offices while abiding by strict health measures.
Assembly speaker Marzouk Al-Ghanem said the government has decided to move to partial curfew from Sunday but its duration will be determined by the council of ministers on Thursday.
He said that Kuwait was at the fifth phase when authorities decided to impose the total lockdown on May 9 but now we have reached the third and fourth phases which require easing restrictions.
MPs said the health ministry insisted that employees should observe social distancing of at least two meters with each employee given at least 10 square meters of space. Employees must take all necessary precautions while dealing with the public and must wear face masks at all times.
In the beginning, employees who are below 50 years old and who are healthy can return to work while keeping with distancing. Group eating at offices is totally banned.
The government told lawmakers that it will allow the gradual reopening of commercial activities while applying strict measures, which will be reviewed on the basis of health developments.
The health ministry said in a presentation that the main coronavirus centers included Mirgab, Juleeb Al-Shiyoukh, Bneid Al-Gar, Farwaniya, Mahboula and Kheitan.
The ministry also said that one of the main reasons for the spread of the disease is overcrowding of laborers in some residential areas and that ministry workers found that in some cases 16 or 20 workers living in the same room which means observing social distancing is impossible.
The ministry also said that the return to normal life depends on the compliance of people with health guidelines.
A number of MPs however demanded that the government should scrap the school year and others insisted that the assembly should resume holding regular sessions to decide on key issues.
In the meantime, a number of lawmakers today filed a draft law calling to adopt a quota system for various expatriate communities in the country in a bid to reduce the number of foreigners and rebalance the demographic structure.
The draft law stipulates a certain percentage for the main communities in the country depending on its current size as follows: (the proposed percentage is from the Kuwaiti population of 1.4 million at present):
Indians 15 percent, Filipinos, Sri Lankans and Egyptians 10 percent each, Bangladeshis, Nepalese, Pakistanis and Vietnamese 5 percent each and the rest of communities a maximum of three percent each.
This would mean that the number of all expatriates will be almost equal to citizens or 1.4 million, meaning a reduction of almost two million expats from their current number of 3.4 million.
It also means that the main reduction will be from the key communities mainly Indians who must be cut by around 800,000 to make them within the allotted quota of 210,000. Egyptians also would have to be reduced by at least 550,000 to make them around 140,000 which is their quota.
There will be massive reductions from the Filipino, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi and other communities.
The implementation of this proposed legislation appears to be impossible because there are more than 250,000 Indians working as domestic helpers which is already above the proposed quota.
The bill proposes penalties of 10 years in jail and a fine of up to KD. 100,000 for any public employee who violates the law.
Source: Kuwait Times
KUWAIT: Three Kuwaiti aircraft departed from China’s Guangzhou International Airport Tuesday to ship out medical supplies to Kuwait as part of the air bridge between the two countries. In a statement received by KUNA, Kuwait’s Ambassador to China Sameeh Hayat affirmed that there are three other planes scheduled to provide the country with medical supplies to enhance its strategic stock during this weekend.
Hayat also pointed out that other shipments of medical and preventive supplies were launched last week from China towards the country by sea shipping from the most important Chinese international ports in the cities of Shanghai and Tianjin, and that they would arrive in Kuwait soon.
The ambassador expressed Kuwait’s appreciation for the continuous efforts in which the leaders of the Chinese government, especially in the foreign and trade ministries and the Central Customs Authority, are providing permanent support, facilitating all procedures, and overcoming difficulties and obstacles in front of the Kuwaiti embassy in Beijing to support efforts for containing and combating the coronavirus. – KUNA
Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior for Residence Affairs Major General Anwar Al-Barjas issued an instructions which enables expatriates with expired residency permits to apply for 3 month extension, local Arabic news paper Al-Anbaa reported.
According to Al-Anba daily, this instruction already came into effect from last Wednesday. Expatriates who’s residency expired due to various reasons such as expiry of passport, not enough validity for passport, etc can benefit from this decision and they can apply for 3 month extension through the link https://eres.moi.gov.kw/individual/en
Residents holding Articles 14, 17, 18, 22 and 24 will benefit from this, the source added.
By Ben Garcia
KUWAIT: The lockdown and the curfew have separated many families, not just in different countries, but even inside a small country like Kuwait. On April 7, Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh and Mahboula were subjected to isolation – cut off from the rest of the country. Then on May 10, a 24-hour curfew was imposed in the entire country. As a result, some families were separated from each other.
“Theresa”, a Filipina married to a Bangladeshi, who did not want to give her real name, chose to separate from her family in order to continue working. Her husband and children stayed at their apartment in Jleeb, but Theresa had a job in Shuwaikh, though not with her actual sponsor. So instead of going home when Jleeb was placed under isolation, she stayed with friends in Salmiya to be able to work.
Theresa, in her mid-50s, needed the salary because her husband, a taxi driver, had been out of work since the government suspended all taxi services on March 26. Moreover, her iqama had expired and she was working illegally with her new employer in Shuwaikh, and knew she would not be able to leave Jleeb to get to work.
Tens of thousands of workers locked inside Jleeb and Mahboula lost their income when the areas were isolated. In the first few days, basic necessities ran out as crowds rushed to buy groceries and fill cooking gas canisters. “I intend to return to my house in Jleeb, but I was afraid because my iqama with my old employer had expired, and I did not want to explain and deal with authorities about it. I didn’t want to call my former boss because I didn’t want him to know that I had accepted a job elsewhere. I was still negotiating with them about my fate,” Theresa said.
“So I spoke to my current boss and she told me to live temporarily with my co-workers in Salmiya so I could work. My husband, my daughter and my son agreed to this arrangement, so throughout the lockdown period, I was living away from my family. Then on May 10, my husband died,” she said.
Theresa recalled talking to her husband on the telephone about the hardship and troublesome times ahead of them. “I felt the stress in my husband’s voice and I was worried. I told him to calm down and we shall overcome these trials. I accepted the job despite the threat of coronavirus and being caught by the police because we have two more children studying in the Philippines. Both of them are in university, and we are also worried about their situation there. My husband stopped working since March 26 because he is a taxi driver and taxis were told to stop because of the pandemic,” she said.
“I knew he was worried and over-stressed, and that is why I always talked to him over the phone. I was very concerned with the fact that he could no longer go for regular checkups for his high blood pressure and diabetes. He skipped it for days because we did not have enough money,” Theresa sobbed.
“On May 10, I received an urgent call from my daughter saying her dad was having a heart attack. I immediately called my current employer to help me reach the Jleeb fence near Ishbilya. I was monitoring my husband’s condition through Facebook messenger. My two children were pumping their father’s chest so he could be revived. I told them not to stop, so my 23-year-old daughter and my 10-year-old son alternated pumping his chest. My daughter had called an ambulance earlier but it didn’t arrive quickly. In fact, I reached Jleeb ahead of the ambulance.
“At the gate I was crying hard, and told the police officer at the checkpoint to allow me to enter Jleeb because my husband was dying. I showed them the live chat with my children and I was happy that the police officer did not bother to ask for anything more, not even the civil ID card. They just allowed me to enter the gate. I ran without feeling exhaustion until I reached our house near Jarallah Clinic. I think it was around five kilometers of running in the midday heat. When I arrived, my kids were terribly exhausted pumping and trying to revive their dad, but it was too late. The ambulance arrived 30 minutes after I arrived, and my husband by that time was no more. I blamed myself for working and that my husband died without me. I pray that no other families are separated like this,” Theresa said.
Now Theresa and her children are back in the Philippines. “He was buried in Kuwait since we are Muslim and he had to be buried within 24 hours. For us it was painful to see the head of the family living without any hope of returning back. I am getting strength from Allah and the support of both families in the Philippines and Bangladesh. I’ve been regularly talking to my children – I know they are devastated but we are okay, this is the will of Allah,” Theresa said.
But she has a problem. Her 10-year-old son could not be taken to the Philippines since he was not legally adopted by the family. “I didn’t want to leave him anywhere; I treat him as my own and I don’t want to leave him. I already sought the help of the Philippine Embassy years ago, but they asked too many papers and I didn’t have them. I hope the embassy will be able to help me so I could legally adopt him,” she said.
The boy was abandoned by his parents when he was 2.5 years old. The parents told them they were going for annual leave, but they never returned. The boy has no birth certificate because he was born inside the house to a Filipina mother and Bangladeshi father. “We totally lost communication with them immediately when they left Kuwait; maybe it was their plan. The boy was believed we were his parents and was very close to my husband,” she said.
It is unclear how the boy’s circumstances will be resolved. “That is exactly the reason why I have to stay strong after the death of their father because I have children who are in schools and I have to take good care of them,” she concluded.
Source: Kuwait Times.
KUWAIT: National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem participated Wednesday in an online meeting of the fourth preparatory committee for the Fifth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament to be held in August in Vienna. Ghanem’s participation in the meeting comes as a representative of the Arab countries in the Inter-Parliamentary Union, where he previously participated in the past two meetings in Geneva and the last online meeting two weeks ago.
During the meeting, Ghanem discussed several points related to the position of the Arab region group on a variety of issues including climate change, refugee and demographic changes in the world countries, in addition to discussing the developments of the novel coronavirus.
Parliamentarians from more than 15 countries representing geopolitical groups in the world participated in the meeting, in addition to the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Gabriela Cuevas Baron and the Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Martin Chung Gong. – KUNA
KUWAIT: Kuwait’s Government urged the public Monday to abide by the full curfew and comply with health authorities’ instructions as the curfew was expected to reduce the number of coronavirus cases. Minister of Health Sheikh Dr Basel Al-Sabah, in an online briefing for the cabinet, chaired by His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, said number of infections amongst citizens and expatriates increased due to failure of the public to abide by physical distancing. Sheikh Basel however said the health situation was under control and “the number of infections is expected to decline after the implementation of the full curfew in the country,” a statement by Deputy Premier, Interior Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Anas Al-Saleh said. The full curfew began Sunday and the government allowed the people to exercise outdoors for two hours daily: 4:30-6:30 pm.
Sheikh Basel, meanwhile, said the Ministry of Health filed three lawsuits against persons who attempted to undermine reputation of the MoH and its staff regarding alleged corruption and profiteering crimes related to purchase of masks and protective garments, said Saleh. Sheikh Basel reiterated full confidence in the MoH officials who were “carrying out their responsibilities faithfully and in integrity.”
Saleh said the cabinet, keen on brushing aside any claim, assigned the State Audit Bureau to examine direct contracting procedures carried out by the MoH, as of March 1, 2020, in order to confront ramifications of the coronavirus. The government urged the public to come forward to legal departments and anti-corruption authority to provide information and documents proving commitment of corruption crimes. It also assigned relevant government authorities to take legal action against any person publishing false allegations against integrity of officials, said Saleh.
On the other hand, Minister of Oil and Acting Minister of Electricity and Water Dr Khaled Al-Fadhel and MEW’s officials briefed the cabinet members that 13,340 megawatts of electricity would be generated this month, a three-percent increase than the 2019 figures. In the meantime, Foreign Minister and head of a special team tasked with repatriation of citizens from abroad, Sheikh Dr Ahmad Nasser Mohammad Al-Sabah, briefed the government about preparations for nationals’ return from Saudi Arabia via the land checkpoint Al-Nuwaiseeb were complete. He said the operation would be carried out between May 12 and 20, and the foreign ministry and the State of Kuwait Embassy in Riyadh started registering names of citizens seeking to return home. He expressed gratitude for Saudi Arabia for facilitating the return of Kuwaiti citizens.
The cabinet also discussed speech of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, which he addressed to the nation two days ago, during which he urged the international community and specialists to search for a vaccine for the coronavirus pandemic. His Highness the Amir highlighted the professional and transparent way the government was dealing with the pandemic, thanking all those who were fighting the disease. His Highness the Amir also called for learning lessons to strengthen national unity, rationalize resources, lessen dependence on others and diversify income. The cabinet assigned relevant ministerial committees to implement guidelines in the speech.
The cabinet meanwhile urged the parliament to postpone a National Assembly’s session, scheduled for today, until after May 30, the last day of the full curfew. The government said the scheduled session entailed health hazards because the parliament would house more than 100 people in one place, which would contradict with preventive measures to confront the virus. — KUNA
By Nawara Fattahova
KUWAIT: The plight of around 80 Indians living on the streets for nearly two weeks in Farwaniya after failing to register for the government amnesty finally ended on Monday, after they were accepted under the amnesty and taken to a shelter for repatriation back home. A volunteer working with a charity group that distributes meals to needy people had posted about their suffering on social media. Kuwait Times had also contacted the interior ministry to take action in this regard, while another Indian group also tried to help.
Their reasons for not registering for the amnesty were varied – some didn’t have passports, others didn’t meet the condition of expired visas before March 1, 2020, some had debts to pay, such as to telecommunication companies, and many didn’t get the chance to enter the processing center during the last five days, as this period was for all nationalities and attendees were in thousands.
Mohammed Khaleel Khan, President of UP NRI Forum Kuwait, was present at the center during the amnesty and during the transfer of this group of Indians to the shelter on Monday. He told Kuwait Times around 80 Indian expats were transferred to the shelter in Abdaly, where visa violators who previously registered for the amnesty are housed, and will leave for India soon.
“The Indian Embassy was present at the amnesty center to help issue travel documents to those who didn’t have their passports. But the problem was that their numbers were huge and the printing machines were not able to print all documents in that short period. Also, some had debts to pay and the amounts were high, so it wasn’t easy to manage. And residencies that expired in March were renewed automatically, so such people were not violators anymore,” Khan said.
“These 80 people were living on the streets as they didn’t have a place to go to, or they came from far-flung areas such as Wafra or Abdaly and couldn’t go back with the curfew situation and the absence of transportation,” he added.
Khan said the UP NRI Forum is distributing food packages to Indians in need. “We prepare the donated food packages to distribute to those in need, especially since there are many Indian families without any resources as they lost their jobs during this crisis and don’t have money to pay the rent or buy food. The Kuwaiti government has taken good care of violators and provided them everything, and we thank the government for their support,” concluded Khan.