Kuwait breaks up 'riot' by Egyptian workers demanding repatriation

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) - Kuwaiti authorities dispersed a "riot" by Egyptian workers who demonstrated on Monday (May 4) to demand repatriation amid the coronavirus crisis, state media said.

Such protests are rare in the tightly controlled Gulf countries, where there is a large population of foreign workers.

Security forces intervened to halt "riots and chaos" at a housing area for foreign workers, detaining an unspecified number of people, according to the official Kuwait News Agency (KUNA).

On Sunday, KUNA quoted Egyptian ambassador to Kuwait Tareq al-Qooni as saying that Egyptians at a camp for immigration offenders will be repatriated starting "this week".

"The first flights will be for women and children who are kept in special housing units," Mr Qooni reportedly said.

Kuwait has said it will allow expatriates in violation of residency laws to leave the Gulf country without paying fines or for plane tickets.

Millions of foreigners across the wealthy Gulf nations face uncertainty amid the coronavirus crisis, with many workers sick and countless others unemployed, unpaid and at the mercy of unscrupulous employers.

Kuwait has so far recorded more than 5,000 infections, including 40 deaths.