Operation Kurangi: biometrics of expats to check illegal immigrants

Minister of Homeland Security and Technology Ali Ihusan; the minister is confident 'Operation Kurangi' will bring a permanent fix to illegal immigration -- Sun Photo/ Moosa Nadheem

Maldives government launches 'Operation Kurangi' on Thursday, a multi-agency operation set on collecting biometrics of migrant workers.

The Ministry of Homeland Security and Technology said the initiative aims to "gain 100 percent biometrically confirmed accountability of migrant workers in Maldives".

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony on Thursday morning at K. Himmafushi, the Minister of Homeland Security Ali Ihusan said this multi-agency effort aims to address the long-prevailing issue of illegal migrants.

Minister Ihusan confirmed thorough background and preparatory works of the operation, prior to official commencement, were made in the last five months. The operation also serves the purpose of identifying root cause of illegal migrants' influx to the Maldives, and present a permanent fix to the issue.

Operation Kurangi officially launches; the multi-agency operation aims to collect biometric data of all migrant workers to assess illegal expatriates -- Sun Photo/ Moosa Nadheem

The minister is confident of concluding the nationwide efforts in the next three years, with the first phase launched in Himmafushi on Thursday; which itself is expected to be completed within a year.

Works falling with the first year's scope including integrating all illegal immigrants working nationwide into the governance system.

"The first leg launched at Himmafushi today is aimed at obtaining biometric data, including finger print and photographic identification, of immigrants and input their information into the government's relevant systems," Ihusan said.

The minister is also confident that once first phase is completed, government will have collected an accurate figure of the total number of expatriates residing in the Maldives, and their information.

Minister Ihusan also said expats employed outside of the actual employer who bring them to the country, is an unlawful practice, which is rampant right now causing several societal issues.

Ihusan said the abundance of illegal migrants posed threat to the country's national security, which is a primary reason for the nationwide operation.

"In the next two years, we will find and take necessary action against all undocumented migrant workers," the minister added.

All undocumented expatriates would be put into the system after collecting their biometric data, before relevant action against them are taken. In cases where identification of an undocumented expatriate is difficult, the government will attempt to reach out to the expat's home country for assistance.

The minister further stressed the primary objective of the operation is not to detain and deport expatriates, but rather provide permission to the expatriates wherever it is possible.

However, should any expatriate commit a criminal offense, they would be deported within 48 hours, the minister added.

Additionally, Minister Ihusan said the data would be made accessible for island council authorities as well.

The Minister of Homeland Security and Technology is confident the operation will bring a permanent solution to illegal immigration in the country.