Ethiopia to Repatriate Hundreds of Ethiopians from Lebanon

ADDIS ABEBA – Ethiopia has moved to repatriate 238 of its citizens from Lebanon, Ministry of foreign affairs said, as the government continues its push to bring Ethiopians illegally living in foreign countries back home.

In the first three months the current fiscal year alone, over 32,500 Ethiopian nationals were repatriated from a dozen countries.

During his regular briefing to reporters, spokesperson of the ministry Nebiat Getachew said works to bring the Ethiopians from Lebanon initiated on Wednesday.

Ethiopians are the biggest group of migrant workers in Lebanon, according to reports that claim their number to be more than 100, 000.

Most of them are women working as maids with few legal rights under the Kafala sponsorship system, which binds them to one employer. Many endure abuses, rights groups say.

Now the ongoing political turmoil in Beirut has made working there more challenging with some Ethiopians now wanting to come back to their country.

“Our consulate in Lebanon together with other stakeholders has now initiated the move to bring citizens back to their homeland,” Nebiat said.

Government’s effort to establish formal overseas employment agreement with Lebanese officials has also stalled due to the existing political situation there, the spokesperson said.

Ethiopia recently signed overseas employment agreements with a host of Middle East countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

These agreements are now enabling daily laborers to work in a safe environment where their rights and benefits will be realized while deterring illegal migration.

The number of Ethiopians being smuggled and trafficked to the Middle East has surged in recent years, as brokers lure the poor and unemployed with promises of a better life.

By Sisay Sahlu

Image: Nebiat Getachew, spokesperson of Ethiopia foreign ministry, during his weekly press briefing on Friday