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Help promised for expats wanting to leave Bahrain

NEW measures to speed up procedures for expatriates wishing to leave Bahrain are in the pipeline.

Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa also pledged to personally look into the security of all Indians and other expatriates, who had been targeted by anti-government protesters.

"We are very concerned with what has been happening and are determined to see that it does not happen again," he said during a meeting with Indian community leaders at the Bahrain Keraleeya Samajam (BKS) in Segaiya yesterday.

"You have served Bahrain for hundreds of years and we will not let anything happen to you.

"We will serve you now and ensure you stay at home - this is your home.

"We will do all that it takes to protect your lives and property."

Shaikh Khalid's visit was made on the directives of His Majesty King Hamad who he said wanted him to reassure people no harm would come to anyone in the country.

Answering a question from workers about the difficulty in obtaining out-passes from immigration, he said he would take up the issue.

"There are some illegal instances of employers retaining passports," said the minister.

"This should not happen. We will take steps to ensure they would go to only one place if they wish to leave."

Shaikh Khalid said he would also speak with the Interior Ministry about protecting highly vulnerable groups such as cold store workers and labourers.

"We will also ensure visible security all over Bahrain to beef up people's confidence," he said.

Responding to suggestions that small businessmen could become members of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he said this could be looked into.

Shaikh Khalid reiterated the government's resolve to provide immediate security to all residents in areas where there have been violent incidents.

He said at no point were the GCC Peninsula Shield forces involved in tackling unrest in Bahrain.

"They are here only to guard vital installations while the other forces can tackle the unrest," said Shaikh Khalid.

He said it was not in anyone's interest to have casualties and these were highly regrettable.

"However, there is no compromise on the security and safety of the country and we have to take steps to address that," he said.

Shaikh Khalid said the government was also taking steps to counter the negative publicity thanks to inaccurate reporting by international media organisations.

"I have been travelling and will this week travel to India and Pakistan to speak with the governments, newspaper editors and television channels to present our point of view," he said.

Indian Ambassador Mohan Kumar and other community leaders attended the event.



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