Ethiopia has repatriated over 65,000 nationals from Saudi Arabia in nearly four months, the country’s ministry of women and social affairs said on Monday.
The country started the ongoing repatriation operation on March 30, 2022, to bring its nationals living under difficult conditions in the Gulf nation back home.
To date, 65,014 Citizens have been repatriated, the ministry said, from 102,000 Ethiopian migrants scheduled to be airlifted from Saudi Arabia in seven to 11 months.
At least 3,176 of them, including 106 minors, have been flown home this week aboard 9 flights. They are now in shelter centers prepared for returnees in Addis Ababa to provide support including food and accommodation, the ministry said.
The repatriation operation, apart from bringing the migrants back home, involves rehabilitating and integrating them to their respective localities in dignity.
Some estimates say a significant number of the 750,000 Ethiopians living in Saudi Arabia are without proper documents. They too may need greater assistance upon arrival in Ethiopia should they also be sent back, according to the IOM.
Despite a recent drop in migration, reports say many Ethiopians risk their lives making the dangerous journey via Yemen hoping to find better jobs in the Gulf nation. Most, however, end up either stranded in Yemeni or in Saudi Arabia’s detention center for entering without proper legal documents.
The government in collaboration with its partners has recently stepped up efforts to take back its citizens stranded overseas as part of its ‘Citizen-centered diplomacy.’ Another major operation to repatriate 12,000 Ethiopians from eight countries including Yemen, was launched late last week.