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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Maid stuck in Saudi Arabia for 12 years set to return

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Maari Sanaa requested authorities via Facebook to help her return to Cambodia from Saudi Arabia. Facebook

Maid stuck in Saudi Arabia for 12 years set to return

A domestic worker who said she laboured in Saudi Arabia for 12 years without pay is due to return to Cambodia within a fortnight, a Ministry of Labour official said yesterday.

Maari Sanaa, a Cham Muslim woman from Kampong Thom province, posted a Facebook video plea last Wednesday from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“Please help me. I came here 12 years ago. I cannot come back to Cambodia and I have no Khmer people to help make me a passport,” she said, adding she had not spoken to her family in more than a decade and did not know how to reach them.

“I came here for jobs and the company cheated me – they didn’t give me a salary.”

Ministry of Labour Undersecretary of State Othsman Hassan said he expected Sanaa would be repatriated in the next 10 to 15 days.

“There is a company [who hired her]. She was an undocumented maid, and the company is illegal,” he said.

Labour Ministry official Osman Hassan poses for a photograph with Cham community members travelling to Saudi Arabia last week.
Labour Ministry official Osman Hassan poses for a photograph with Cham community members travelling to Saudi Arabia last week. Fresh News

Hassan said Sanaa was currently in an immigration centre for undocumented migrants, and the Cambodian Embassy in Kuwait would issue a letter to identify her.

In February last year, a memorandum of understanding was inked between Cambodia and Saudi Arabia to establish a pipeline for Cambodian maids, but the MoU has yet to be implemented, Ministry of Labour spokesman Heng Sour said.

“Right now, any sending [of maids] is considered illegal. There is no one officially sent to Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“Anyone who goes through the [implemented] MoU will be protected, so we don’t have any concern about that.”

Additional reporting by Erin Handley

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