First Published: 2013-11-27

Saudi Arabia repatriates thousands of illegal immigrants in few weeks
Ethiopia flies home over 50,000 citizens in Saudi Arabia after seven-month amnesty period to formalise their status expired.
Middle East Online

Reports of mistreatment spark outrage

ADDIS ABABA - Ethiopia has flown home over 50,000 citizens in Saudi Arabia after a crackdown against illegal immigrants in the oil-rich state, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.

"We projected the initial number to be 10,000 but it is increasing," foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti said, adding that the final total once the mass airlift ends is now expected to be around 80,000.

Ethiopia started repatriating citizens living illegally in Saudi Arabia after a seven-month amnesty period to formalise their status expired on November 4, sparking violent protests between Saudi police and Ethiopian migrants preparing to leave the country.

The Ethiopian government said three of its citizens were killed in clashes.

Dina said the government is spending $2.6 million (1.9 million euros) on the repatriation programme to bring citizens home, the majority women.

Ethiopia has said relations with Saudi Arabia remain "sisterly", with Dina saying the government's main priority was to bring citizens home.

"We are focussing on the repatriation... we have not evaluated that one, we have not assessed that," he said, referring to Ethio-Saudi ties.

Large numbers of Ethiopians -- often women seeking domestic work -- travel to the Middle East each year looking for jobs.

Around 200,000 women sought work abroad in 2012, according to Ethiopia's ministry of labour and social affairs.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) said many face physical and mental abuse, low pay, discrimination and poor working conditions.

Reports of mistreatment of Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia has sparked outrage in Ethiopia.

In an emotional speech this month, Ethiopia's Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom said the government was in "around the clock crisis management" mode trying to bring citizens back.

With 91 million citizens, Ethiopia is Africa's most populous country after Nigeria, but also one of the continent's poorest, with the majority of people earning less than two dollars a day.

Around 27 percent of women and 13 percent of men are unemployed, according to the ILO.

 

Obama: Iran deal most momentous decision since Iraq war

Syria Foreign Minister in Iran to discuss situation in Middle East

Nusra Front captures more US-trained rebels in northwestern Syria

Algeria language reforms spark protest

South Sudan symbol of freedom in jeopardy

'New PKK attacks' target security forces in southeastern Turkey

Mediterranean migrant deaths reach tragic milestone in 2015

Violence in Yemen pushes health system to the brink of collapse

Israel court orders extremist Jewish leader to be kept in detention

Suspect in Kuwait mosque attack admits affiliation with ISIS

Head of Taliban's Qatar office quits as leadership rift deepens

Amnesty accuses Sudan of 'war crimes' in South Kordofan

Officials in Damascus play down US warning to Syria regime

Turkish air strikes increase pressure on Iraq Kurdish leadership

British oil company investigated for Somalia corruption

EU to Turkey: Be proportionate in your response to PKK

Yemen retakes biggest airbase from rebels

Two Turkish soldiers killed in new PKK attack

Britain extends air strikes in Iraq by a year

US may take 'additional steps' to defend allied fighters in Syria

Israel ex-security chiefs to Netanyahu: Accept Iran deal as ‘fait accompli’

Turkey will do 'whatever necessary' in fight against militants

US agrees to ‘expedite’ arms sales to Gulf countries

President of Iraq Kurdistan vows to avenge Yazidi minority

PKK claims deadly suicide bombing against troops in eastern Turkey

Sudan rebels offered guarantees to attend talks

Pro-Hadi forces target rebel-held base as coalition forces enter Aden

Israel's president threatened over 'Jewish Terrorism' comments

French beach returns to public after departure of Saudi King

Syria army plane crashes in rebel-held town of Ariha

Iran bans newspaper owned by nuclear deal critic

More Yemen refugees look for shelter in Djibouti

Erdogan: Putin may give up on Assad

Yemen rebel leader says political settlement still possible

Egypt leader amends electoral law

Saudi king cuts short French Riviera holiday

Kerry in Qatar for talks on Iran nuclear deal

UAE prosecutor refers 41 people to trial on terrorism charges

Kerry to Middle East allies: Iran deal will make region safer

Egypt court again postpones verdict in retrial of Jazeera reporters

Al-Nusra Front releases video to show ‘capture’ of US-trained rebels

Israel faces mounting pressure after baby killing in arson attack

'PKK suicide attack' kills two soldiers in eastern Turkey

Egypt court postpones verdict on brother of Ayman al-Zawahiri

Immigration surpasses economy as major concern in Europe