Saudi Arabia deports illegal migrants from Yemen and Ethiopia

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Saudi authorities have decided to deport all migrants from Yemen and Ethiopia who had entered the country illegally, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

In recent months, scores of migrants had already been sent home, IOM spokesperson Christiane Berthiaume told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday.

Over 190,000 Yemeni migrant workers repatriated between June and March 2013. During the first week of November, the rate of returns had increased, reaching the peak of 7,000 per day.

Ms. Berthiaume says the migrants had been mostly working in construction, but also as farmers, vendors, shop keepers, carpenters and blacksmiths.

"According to the statistics, 75 per cent of the returnees interviewed had been previously sending remittances home to their families in Yemen, amounting to between US $100 and US $200 per month. Cumulatively, that would represent approximately US $5 million lost in remittances for the months of October and November alone. The massive loss of income will have an even greater impact considering the migrants are returning to a region devastated by malnutrition and food insecurity. It will only exacerbate a situation that is already extremely difficult."

Thirty-five per cent of the returnees told IOM they had suffered physical abuse and confiscation of their belongings, but despite that, some 27 per cent of repatriated Yemeni workers said they intended to go back to Saudi Arabia when possible.

Meanwhile, some 21,000 Ethiopians have been deported, Ms. Berthiaume added, noting that on average, 12 planes per day were flying migrant workers back to Ethiopia.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’17″

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