Addis Ababa July 27/2017 Ethiopia will intensify its effort in repatriating undocumented citizens living in Saudi, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).
Over 130,000 undocumented Ethiopian migrants have secured exit visas and nearly half of them have returned home.
In an exclusive interview with ENA, MoFA Spokesperson Meles Alem said the government of Ethiopia, in collaboration with all stakeholders, has done an encouraging job for the safe repatriation of citizens that even "surprised" diplomats here in Addis Ababa.
The Spokesperson noted that the government has been engaged in various activities right from the beginning, including commissioning various committees drawn from various parts of the society and establishing a national command post, though the number of the returnees is far below its expectation.
According to him, the issue of returning undocumented Ethiopians rests on three main actors, namely the returnees, the governments of Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia.
“The Government of Ethiopia cannot force returnees. Its role is encouraging, supporting and facilitating conditions while the issue of deciding to come back home is the issue of returnees themselves”, he elaborated.
Meles added that "the Government of Saudi Arabia has the right to draft rules and regulations like any other sovereign country. But as the two countries have been cooperating on several fronts, Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia have been striving to resolve the situation in a diplomatic manner and the effort will continue."
He stressed that the two countries have been enjoying strong and longstanding relation in politics, economy and social affairs alongside the historic people-to-people relation.
The diplomatic relation remains as a vital tool to return citizens that remain in the kingdom despite receiving exit visas.
Recent estimates put the number of undocumented Ethiopians that lived in Saudi Arabia, including those who returned during the amnesty period, over 400,000.
Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Amin Abdulkadir said the embassy has attained encouraging results during the past four months. However, the returnees have been more than reluctant to return, especially during the last month.
Ambassador Amin revealed that "half of undocumented Ethiopians who have exit visas still remain in the country due to speculations that the decree will be revoked".
He called on those who have already secured exit visas to return home before the busy month of September when the country receives religious guests for the annual Hajji pilgrimage.
According to him, Ethiopians who still do not have exit visas can obtain the documents.
“Our missions, diplomats and other organizations established for the purpose of safely repatriating Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia are working 24 hours a day”, he stated.