Ethiopians fear deportation from Saudi Arabia

ethiopians ksaAbout 85,000 Ethiopians have secured the visas to return home,

30 Junes 2017 |Tesfalem Erago | DW

“Zeraberuk Hagos has worked illegally in Saudi Arabia for a number of years, holding jobs from shepherding camels to hard physical labor. He and his family are taking advantage of Saudi Arabia’s current migrant amnesty program to voluntarily return to Ethiopia.

The amnesty means they won’t be punished or fined when they leave, and they will be able to return (but only legally) in the future.

Hagos told DW that he was heading home because his wife and children were with him in the Middle East, and he was worried about them being swept up in raids when the amnesty expires. Undocumented workers who are still in Saudi Arabia when the amnesty ends on July 25 face punishments and deportation.

If he was alone, he would remain, Hagos said, because Ethiopia has nothing to offer him. “When the Saudi government forcefully evicted us last time, I went to my hometown,” he said, referring to a previous migrant amnesty in 2013. “The [Ethiopian] government made a number of promises but nothing was ever done. Therefore I crossed the sea and went back to Saudi on a life-threatening journey.”

It’s difficult to know exactly how many undocumented Ethiopians live in Saudi Arabia. Some Arab news sites have reported that Saudi officials expect around one million undocumented workers, primarily from Asia and Africa, to leave the country.

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