Ethiopia Airlifts Close to 10,000 its Nationals from Saudi Arabia

ADDIS ABABA – Close to 10, 000 Ethiopians have been airlifted from Saudi Arabia since the government launched its repatriation process late last week, the ministry of foreign affairs announced today.

The government launched a repatriation effort at the end of last week to bring back its nationals detained in the gulf nation’s refugee camps.

The process involving eight daily flights is expected to go on for at least two weeks and targets to bring at least 2, 000 citizens back home.

“The plan is to evacuate 40,000 Ethiopians from Saudi Arabia within 2 weeks,” said Ambassador Dina Mufti, during a press briefing on Thursday morning.

“We have repatriated 9,902 Ethiopians from Saudi Arabia since last Saturday with 35 flights,” he said.

The figure does not include returnees that are expected to arrive at Addis Ababa Bole international airport.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the Job Creation Commission said reparations are underway to rehabilitate the 40,000 Ethiopians expected to come from Saudi Arabia.

“Many of the returnees immigrated illegally and they were in prison. They are not in good shape,” said Ayelech Eshete, state minister of Labor, speaking to state-run Ethiopian news agency today.

“They should, therefore, be treated in a special way and need psycho-social support and training. We are therefore working with TVETs in this manner,” she said.

The state minister also said several government and other offices are currently working on ways to create jobs for the returnees.

“We have prepared various programs and projects that would help citizens to work in their country and change their livelihood,” she added.

Apart from Saudi, authorities have also repatriated at least 33 Ethiopians form Hargeisa and 73 from Puntland this week.