Saudi Arabia on Thursday agreed to hand out exit visas and bear the cost for sending thousands of Indian workers home after it came to light that they were jobless and starving. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj confirmed the news in the Rajya Sabha.

Almost 10,000 workers are believed to be in stuck in the West Asian country after large-scale layoffs. Many of them were left without electricity and food in their company accommodation or unemployment camps, and the firms had not approved their exit visas either.

According to Swaraj, the workers will be allowed by the Saudi government to take up jobs with other companies in the country if they are given such offers. They can also claim unpaid salaries – many of them had not received any for months – with the country’s Labour Office. Swaraj said Saudi Arabia will also provide free medical care and food to the workers. The developments were hailed in the Upper House as a diplomatic victory for India.

Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh has been in the country since Tuesday to push for the workers to be sent home. Earlier this week, Swaraj had promised that the workers would be evacuated soon, and arrangements to feed them had been made by the Indian embassy in Jeddah.