Oman flooded with infiltators via Iran

Thursday, December 2, 2004

ABU DHABI ų Oman has been struggling with increasing infiltration from Iran.

Officials said thousands of Muslims from Pakistan and South Asia have used Iran as a launching pad for illegal entry into Oman. They said the infiltrators charter boats to cross from Iran into the sultanate.

Iran has been approached to help stop the infiltration into Oman. But so far little has been done to tighten security along the 900-kilometer Iranian-Pakistan border.

Officials said thousands of Pakistanis and others nationals from South Asia have infiltrated Oman in a search for work. But they said the infiltrators were also believed to include Islamic insurgents and criminals.

"According to our information, about 6,000 Pakistanis are waiting in Iran to enter Oman during the long [Ramadan] holidays," Sohail Qadeer Seddiqi, community welfare attachŽ with the Pakistani embassy in Muscat, told the Abu Dhabi-based Gulf News on Nov. 10. "Even if they are caught by the Iranian police, they are sent to Bandar Abbas, where they take boats and come here."

Oman has sought to improve border security, particularly along its coastline. Officials said Oman has been used as a gateway for Asians who sought to infiltrate the United Arab Emirates.

Every week, hundreds of Iranians have also been flocking to the UAE port of Dubai. Diplomats said many of them seek work in the UAE or merely beg for money.

Gulf Cooperation Council states have agreed to launch cooperation to prevent illegal immigration to the region. The six GCC states were said to be planning such measures as joint border patrols, communications between border authorities, standardized entry regulations and expanded intelligence exchange.

Copyright © 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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