Over the years, human beings migrated from home country to overseas with the aim of meeting their livelihood needs. People migrate for many reasons. These reasons can be classified as economic, social, political or environmental.
Overall, international migrants make up 3.3 percent of the world’s population today with around 244 million people (according to the 2016 findings of Pew Research Center). About 31 million Africans, or little more than 3 percent of the continent’s population, have migrated internationally (including within Africa), a report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) revealed in 2016.
Within the stated frameworks, some 2 million Ethiopians have been living abroad including in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which has one of the major shares of destination, based on recent estimation. Despite the stated facts, undocumented Ethiopians living in Saudi Arabia who are estimated up to 500,000 have entered into a deadline to be leave from the Kingdom within three months.
Ethiopia has been working to repatriate its citizens since the 90 days amnesty was declared by Saudi Arabia. The amnesty period for illegal foreign nationals to leave the kingdom without penalties started on March 29, 2017. Ethiopians at home, including the Premier have been expressing their fear that those Ethiopians reluctant to heed to the call may be forced to face a catastrophic situation.
In its previous campaign held in November 2013, Saudi police and labor authorities locate, detain, and forcibly deport undocumented migrant workers which led to violation of rights of migrants. This followed an April 2013 amendment to the labor law that allowed police and labor authorities to enforce labor code provisions against undocumented workers, including detaining and deporting anyone not working for a designated employer.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn recently said “A situation that makes the Saudi Government to forcibly deport our citizens is being created. Therefore, it is better if our citizens come back home before various problems arise, seizing the opportunity they are given even in the remaining short period”.
Even if the 90 days deadline Saudi Arabia has given to all foreign nationals residing illegally in the country is closing, very few Ethiopians have returned home as compared to the expected number.
Despite the geographic closeness, the power of voice being waving recently from the East African nation has not been well heard in Saudi Arabia which is only tenth of thousands Ethiopian migrants backed home.
“Bringing the Ethiopians within the remaining few days before the deadline needs more collaboration, oblivious of political, religion and other issues”, said Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
According to reports, authorities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have drawn up plans for daily combing operations to nab illegal workers after the end of amnesty, said the Saudi Gazette.
Few days are left before the end of the three-month grace period given to illegal expats to leave the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as part of “A nation without violator”. Through the campaign, Saudi Arabia reportedly set to deport over 5 million migrants who settled in the kingdom without proper living and working.
The Inter Religious Council of Ethiopia (IRCE) and the Ethiopian Public Diplomacy Team which both of them believed to persuade undocumented Ethiopians living in Saudi Arabia extended their immediate calls to return home country before the deadline set by the Saudi Government with expressed their willingness to support them in sustainable manner.
“This call is a matter of rescuing life, reaching for own citizens and showing unity before the severe damage happens”, said Teshale Sebero a member of public diplomacy team and President of Ethiopian Raie Party.
Despite any existent and or fabricated challenges that make Ethiopians living in Saudi Arabia to be reluctant to come back to their homeland, Ethiopians at home are pleading fellow citizens “Please back home now and let`s face any expected challenges together!!”
Recent Major Activities to Repatriate Citizens
-Establishing a command post that will lead the repatriation mission and opening offices in a number of cities to facilitate the safe return of Ethiopians are among the activities the country has been engaged.
-The ministry of Foreign Affairs had also sent a 12-person diplomatic team to Saudi Arabia to help the Ethiopians migrants return home before the deadline.
-Some 20 people drawn from Amhara, Oromia, and Tigray regional states set to Saudi Arabia to mobilize Ethiopian migrants living in Saudi Arabia to return home.
-The Ethiopian Airlines has scheduled extra flights to transport Ethiopians returning from Saudi Arabia effective from 1st June, 2017.
-Various institutions and non-governmental organizations are making pledges and preparations to welcome and reintegrate the returnees.
-About 82,000 Ethiopian migrants have obtained exit visa to leave the country.