Saudi Arabia holds off repatriating Ethiopian migrants

Saudi Arabia is doing so to honor a formal request form the government of Ethiopia to suspend repatriation temporarily

Ethiopian Migrants _ Saudi Arabia
Photo file / Ethiopian migrants at Port of Obock, Djibouti – T.Craig Murphy Credit : IOM

April 15, 2020

Saudi Arabia reportedly suspended repatriating Ethiopian migrants temporarily. According to a report by VOA Amharic service, on Wednesday,  the decision came following a request by the Ethiopian government. 

This week, the United Nations urged Saudi Arabia not to repatriate Ethiopian migrants at this time, for it risks spreading the Coronavirus disease, as reported by the Reuters.  So far, Ethiopia has only 85 confirmed cases of COVID 19, while Saudi Arabia has more than 5000 confirmed cases of the pandemic. 

Ethiopian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz Ahmed, told VOA Amharic service Saudi Arabia did not repatriate Ethiopians in the past three days after the Ethiopian government requested more time to make necessary arrangements to receive them. After COVID 19, all people who are arriving in the country are required to be quarantined for two weeks.

Over the past three weeks, nearly 2900 Ethiopian migrants who reportedly entered the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from Yemen were deported to Ethiopia.

Ethiopia has closed all its borders in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic. But that did not hamper human traffickers from their illegal practices.  

Before the pandemic, between 200 and 300 Ethiopian migrants used to enter Saudi Arabia with the agency of illegal traffickers. The situation got worse after the pandemic, says Ethiopian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. 

As many as 5000 Ethiopians have entered the port city of Jazan after the Coronavirus pandemic. And there are also tens of thousands of Ethiopian migrants in Yemen, some of whom are being armed by the rebels in the country, Mr. Abdulaziz said during a phone interview with VOA Amharic service. 

Mr. Abdulazis blamed human traffickers for what Ethiopian migrants are going through in Yemen and Saudi’s port city of Jazan.  

Ethiopian migrants follow a risky and dangerous route to find themselves in a problematic situation in Saudi Arabia after crossing the borders of three countries: Somalia, Djibouti, and Yemen. 

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