Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Body oversees Saudis in Yemen, Bahrain, Japan

JEDDAH, Mar 16, 2011- Osama Naqli, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has said that a committee "working around-the-clock" has been set up to handle issues concerning Saudi subjects in areas of disturbance, "particularly Yemen, Bahrain and Japan".

Naqli said the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs was working closely with embassies in those countries to provide Saudis with any assistance required, their "safety being the prime concern".

"The government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques will spare no effort to ensure the safety of any Saudi subject abroad," Naqli said. "All facilities available will be used for that purpose."

He urged students and other Saudi subjects to contact their embassies should they seek any assistance or find themselves in difficulty.

"The ministry is in continuous and direct contact with its embassies in Yemen, Bahrain and Japan, and in contact with the authorities in those countries to ensure the safety of Saudi subjects," he said.

Naqli noted, however, that no reports had been received of Saudis coming to harm in any of those countries.

"The embassies in Manama, Sana'a and Tokyo have set up operation rooms which are working 24 hours a day to serve Saudis and address their needs urgently," he said.

Prince Muhammad Bin Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz, Emir of the Eastern Province, ordered Monday all Saudi students in Bahrain to leave the country and buses were provided to transport them and their families.

On Sunday 180 female Saudi students at Bahrain University were transported through coordination with the Bahraini authorities and provided with alternative accommodation at the Sheraton Hotel in Dammam.

The embassy said that it also provided security for some 110 Saudis using their own vehicles to travel to Dammam Monday via the King Fahd Causeway.

Embassy sources said procedures to leave the country would continue and that over 350 Saudi students in total were expected to return to Saudi Arabia. Authorities in the Eastern Province also completed Monday flight ticket reservations for Saudi students who had arrived in Dammam and required transport to their homes in other regions.

Saudi Ambassador Abdul Muhsin Al-Marak said that all Saudi students in Bahrain were in good health and unharmed. An employee at the university described persons armed with "sticks, swords and metal bars" as "attacking students during anti-government protests".

Helicopter airlifts Saudis from Sendai

The Saudi Embassy in Japan, meanwhile, is continuing to bring back Saudis by helicopter from the city of Sendai which was one of the areas worst hit by Friday's earthquake and tsunami.

Abdul Aziz Turkistani, the Saudi ambassador in Japan, said his embassy had also been in contact with those of other Arab countries in Japan to locate their subjects and provide them with transport to Tokyo.

"The helicopter will continue its operations until all Arab subjects stuck in Sendai have been transported out," Turkistani said.

Monday saw the second and final group of Saudis flown out of Sendai arrive in the Japanese capital on the helicopter ordered by Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Ghalib Al-Enizi, a Saudi studying in Sendai, told Okaz/Saudi Gazette of his experience as the earthquake struck at the end of last week.

"It was something I'll never forget," he said. "We ended up staying for two days at an emergency site set up by the Japanese government near where we live, and we managed to get in touch with the embassy through Facebook because communications were down the first day after the earthquake hit."

Prisoners seek return

In Egypt, the newly-appointed Saudi Ambassador Ahmad Qattan is to be presented with the files on Saudi prisoners being held in the country, as a group of inmates at Al-Qanatir Prison continue their hunger strike for a second day. The prisoners are protesting at what they describe as "maltreatment and poor conditions" at the prison and have asked the embassy in Cairo to find a way for them to be transferred to prisons in the Kingdom.

Some of the inmates have been held in Egypt for over 20 years. The new ambassador, meanwhile, held a meeting Monday with Saudi students in Egypt to hear the difficulties they are faced with as they pursue their studies in Egypt.

Qattan reassured them that the embassy would work to help them "overcome all difficulties and achieve their goals".

Source: Zawya

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