ADDIS ABABA – More than 1, 200 Ethiopian migrants have returned home from Saudi Arabia today, taking this week’s total arrivals close to 3,300.
Nine flights have been carried out this week as the authorities continue to push ahead with their repatriation operation that aims to bring back citizens detained in the Gulf nation.
The latest three airlifts conducted today have brought a combined total of 1, 204 Ethiopians back to their country, said the Ministry of Women and Social Affairs.
Among the returns, 169 are children and 307 are women among the repatriates that arrived today.
In addition, 1,024 including five children arrived on Wednesday while 1,059 others including 63 children and 196 women migrants, repatriated from Saudi Arabia on Monday, bringing this week’s arrivals tally to 3, 287.
All of them were taken to shelter centers set up to provide various support including temporary accommodation, food and medical assistance, officials said.
Ethiopia started the ongoing repatriation operation on March 30, 2022, with a plan to bring at least 102,000 of its citizens, who are living in dire situations in Saudi Arabia, back to their country within eleven months.
Over 48,610 Ethiopians have so far been repatriated from the Gulf nation,
The government is carrying out the repatriation effort with some support from its development partners particularly the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The repatriation operation was among the issues discussed when State Minister of Foreign affairs of Ethiopia, Birtukan Ayano, and IOM Regional Director for East Africa, Mohammed Abdiker, met on Wednesday.
Birtukan commended the IOM’s consistent support of the country’s migration management efforts, stating Ethiopia gives priority to repatriating citizens in dire situations abroad and minimizing the vicious cycles of irregular migration.
There are tens of thousands of Ethiopians currently residing in Saudi Arabia without proper documents, and they may need greater assistance upon arrival in Ethiopia should they also be sent back.