SANAA - Saudi Arabia has begun deporting thousands of Yemeni laborers following new regulations requiring foreigners to work only for their sponsors, a Yemeni official said on Monday, a move that could "significantly damage" the poor country's economy.
Some two million of Yemen's 25 million citizens work abroad, more than half of them in larger and richer neighbor Saudi Arabia. Remittances bring in $2 billion a year to Yemen, a country still grappling with revolt, a separatist movement and an Islamist insurgency.
"If the decision is implemented, it will cause significant damage to the ... Yemeni economy, of which expatriates are a backbone since their remittances reach about $2 billion a year," Yemeni presidential advisor Rajeh Badi told Reuters.
Badi said the issue would affect more than 200,000 Yemenis who will have entered Saudi Arabia on a work visa, but who do not work for the sponsor they originally registered with.