Number Still Rising: Ethiopian Migrants Return Empty Handed From Saudi Arabia

An Ethiopian migrant shortly after arriving at the airport in Addis Ababa following her arrest and detention in Saudi Arabia for working without documents (© Anteneh Aklilu/IRIN)


ADDIS ABABA (IRIN) – When Mohamed Yusuf left his home town in Ethiopia for Saudi Arabia a year ago at the age of 17, he thought life would change for the better. Instead, a difficult and unprofitable stay in Saudi Arabia ended when he was among the nearly 137,000 undocumented Ethiopian migrants deported by the Saudi authorities to date.

“At first, I thought I was going to change my life and those of my father and mother, who paid for the whole trip out of their meagre income,” said Yusuf, whose father is a farmer in northern Ethiopia. However, the gruelling journey to Saudi Arabia and his stay there had been harrowing experiences, he told IRIN.

During the long trek through Ethiopia’s northeastern Afar Desert to Djibouti on the Red Sea, he endured hunger and thirst and had to bury some of his friends, who perished along the way. On reaching Djibouti, he paid smugglers 5,000 Ethiopian Birr (US$261) to take him from Obock, on Djibouti’s northern coast, across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen. From there he made his way to Saudi Arabia.

The majority of male migrants from Ethiopia follow similar routes when crossing into Saudi and mostly depart from Obock, although many also leave from Somaliland. Female migrants usually enter as domestic workers under Saudi Arabia’s ‘kafala’ (sponsorship) system.

Read more at IRIN News.

Future Unsure for Repatriated Female Ethiopians (VOA News)
Ethiopia brings home 140 000 migrants from Saudi (News 24)
Saudi expulsions leave broken dreams in Africa and Asia (Reuters)
Tadias Roundtable Discussion on Ethiopian Migrants in the Middle East (Video & Photos)
An Appeal to Ethiopians Worldwide: Supporting the Ethiopian Red Cross Society

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