100,000 Ethiopian migrants return home from Saudi Arabia

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IOM, together with the Ethiopian government, is working to manage the influx of vulnerable Ethiopian migrants returning from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. © IOM 2013

The number of Ethiopian migrants returning from Saudi Arabia has surpassed the 100,000 mark, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

IOM says the return operation is overwhelming its available resources and is appealing for $13 million to be able to provide reintegration support to the migrants, the majority of whom have returned empty-handed.

The number of chartered planes bringing the migrants back to Ethiopia has risen from six flights per day up to 20 flights.

The majority of those who have arrived back are men but there is also a significant number of unaccompanied minors.

Upon arrival, the migrants are registered, provided with food, undergo a medical check-up and given a $50 stipend to enable them to travel back to their homes.

Sharon Dimanche from IOM in Addis Ababa says most of the migrants were not only victims of human trafficking, but also had their human rights violated while in Saudi Arabia.

"As of yesterday, 100,620 migrants had returned. IOM has been able to provide post arrival assistance to over 90,000 of these migrants. The number is increasing as we are currently registering approximately 7,000 migrants daily. The stories they are telling us are mainly to rape and torture. Men have watched their wives being defiled before their eyes. Women feel dirty and tainted after the inhuman act. The first group to arrive also had sad narration of being beaten by mobs of young men in the streets of Saudi some of them had not been paid their wages by the time they were leaving for Ethiopia. They were being robbed off their money, shoes, many of them came with torn clothes, dirty bare foot. They definitely want to look for better opportunities elsewhere of we, not only we as IOM, but all the other implementing partners do not work at a long term intervention to be able to address the main root causes, why these people left Ethiopia in the first place."

The return of the migrants follows the passing of new legislation in Saudi Arabia requiring all migrants to regularize their stay and obtain work permits.

Thousands of undocumented migrants mainly from Yemen and Ethiopia have been detained and are being repatriated to their countries of origin.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.

Duration 2’23″

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