Oman has announced the deportation of 835 illegal immigrants, despite 116 new arrivals being arrested in the drive to stem the influx.
The arrests were made between June 2 and 8, the Royal Oman Police (ROP) said. The so-called ‘infiltrators' were rounded up from a number of provinces bordering the Sultanate's 1,700km-long coastline.
In a statement, the ROP said the arrests were made by military and security agencies. The detainees - from various countries - will remain in custody until they are processed by immigration authorities ahead of their eventual deportation.
In recent years, Oman has seen a rising tide of illegal immigrants coming mainly from the Indian sub-continent, the Horn of Africa, and the wider Middle East region. The influx is believed to be fuelled by an increase in the activities of suspected human smugglers operating by sea.
Authorities said the traffickers offload their human cargoes at remote coastal locations often at night. Many of the arrivals are eventually caught with help from vigilant villagers and fishermen. But those who manage to avoid detection seek shelter in isolated farming communities where they find temporary work as farmhands.
Police blame the illegal influx on a spike in burglaries and thefts, most notably the vandalism of electrical infrastructure for valuable copper cable. The use of such immigrants for drug-smuggling is also a concern for security agencies.
On Tuesday, the ROP threatened action against citizens and residents found harbouring illegal residents or providing them with employment or shelter. Residents are urged to report any suspicious elements in their localities.