10,820 Ethiopians Airlifted from Saudi Arabia since Mid-Nov

ADDIS ABABA – More than 1,160 Ethiopian nationals who were living in difficult situations in Saudi Arabia have been repatriated today, authorities say.

Today, three planes airlifted 1, 162 Ethiopians from Saudi Arabia where they were detained for illegal entry.

The returnees are all men and include eight minors, according to the Ministry of Women and Social Affairs.

It says the arrivals have brought the total number of repatriates since Nov to 10, 820 – Of which, 593 are either children or minors under the age of eighteen. The remaining are 8,224 men and 2001 women.

All of them are getting the necessary care inside shelter centers set up in Addis Ababa, the Social Affairs Ministry says, adding efforts are also underway to reintegrate them with their families.

Authorities resumed repatriating citizens from the Gulf nation on November 21, 2022, with a plan to bring more than 30,000 citizens back home.

“The government has made the necessary preparations to do that,” State Minister of Foreign Affairs Birtukan Ayano said upon welcoming the returnees at Addis Ababa airport last month.

Following an agreement with Saudi officials, the government of Ethiopia initiated the repatriation push – which aims to return 102, 000 citizens back to their country within eleven months – on March 30, 2022.

The first round lasted until August 29 and helped to repatriate more than 71,700 citizens who had been held in Saudi Arabian detention centers for entering the country without proper legal documents.

Every year, thousands of Ethiopians risk their lives making the dangerous journey via Yemen hopping in search of better jobs in rich Gulf nations often in the hands of the smuggling networks.

Most, however, end up stranded in Yemen, held under the control of dangerous smuggling networks, or in Saudi prisons for illegal entry.