ADDIS ABABA – More than 35, 000 Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia have been registered to be repatriated, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).
The government recently announced a repatriation plan to bring back over 100, 000 Ethiopians from the Gulf Nation.
So far, “more than 35 thousand Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia have registered to get back home,” Ambassador Dina Mufti, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during a press briefing today.
Preparations to bring them back from Saudi Arabia have been finalized, said Ambassador Dina.
Despite a recent drop in illegal migration, reports say many from the East Africa region in general and Ethiopia in particular risk their lives making the dangerous journey via Yemen in the hope of finding jobs in Saudi Arabia.
Most, however, end up either stranded in Yemeni or Saudi Arabia’s detention centers due to illegal entry.
Official estimates put the total number of Ethiopians residing in Saudi Arabia to be 750,000. About 450,000 of them are suspected of living there without proper legal documents.
The nation airlifted tens of thousands of detained nationals in 2021 with the support of its partners.
“The large returns are the product of an initiative of the Government of Saudi Arabia aimed at reducing unemployment by tightening its immigration policy,” reads a UN migration agency report.
The agency said irregular migrants were afforded a 90-day amnesty period during which they were encouraged to leave the country without facing penalties.
Those unable to do so, including thousands of Ethiopian migrants, are languishing in Saudi Arabian prisons.
Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia recently held discussions on easing situations to Ethiopians residing in the gulf nation and repatriating those suffering in various detention centers.
The planned repatriation will focus on Ethiopians who are living in difficult situations, said the ministry of foreign affairs.
The plan also involves reinstating and rehabilitating the returnees in a sustainable manner, according to the ministry.
Featured Image Caption: Ethiopians mostly women and children arriving at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport from the gulf nation in 2021 [Photo File]