Friday, January 10, 2014

Ethiopian Migrants Deported From Saudi Arabia

They went in a bid to escape poverty, but few really succeeded, even if they did find work. Many were abused by their employers. Now, 144,000 Ethiopians have returned home, deported from Saudi Arabia, which began a crackdown on undocumented foreign workers in November 2012.
The authorities in Ethiopia were expecting migrants to return, but, anticipating a mere 30,000, they set aside just US$2.6 million to help with reintegration.

“The assistance they are receiving now is short-term, but once they get back to their homes, they will need long-term assistance, like finding jobs and reintegrating into the community, and the government must work towards these goals,” Sharon Dimanche, from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), told IRIN.
The government has also banned its citizens from travelling to the Middle East, a move migration expert say will not only lead people to head for new destinations, such as Sudan, but could flout international laws on freedom of movement.

According to Chris Horwood, of the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat (RMMS), the main drivers of migration from Ethiopia are “endemic poverty caused by economic inequality, poor education and training options.”
He added, “We also know about pressures on access to natural resources and the impact of climate change making some areas very fragile. So people migrate as a coping strategy to poverty and lack of opportunity, and some migrants from Ethiopia particularly identify political oppression (particularly the Oromo).”

In 2010, Ethiopia came up with its Growth and Transformation Plan, a five-year blueprint for economic growth. “Four million jobs have been created in the first three years… We hope, if this trend continues, we will have a substantially reduced number of migrants going out of the country very soon,” Abdulfetah Abdulahi, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, told IRIN.
Yitna Getachew, of IOM, agreed that such initiatives could help stem migration, but said that the effects were unlikely to be immediate. “It takes time before people can begin to feel comfortable with economic prospects at home. The early stages of economic growth - the World Bank estimates that it will exceed 7 percent in Ethiopia between 2013 and 2015, while in 2012, its economy was the 12th fastest growing economy globally - currently being experienced in Ethiopia are likely to increase cases of migration,” said Getachew. “People who hitherto had no money are beginning to get an income, which they can invest in migration by bribing smugglers, migration officials and buying fake documents.”

Read the experiences of individual deported migrants here

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