- Ethiopia has flown home over 50 000 citizens in Saudi Arabia after a
crackdown against illegal immigrants in the oil-rich state, the foreign
ministry said on Wednesday.
projected the initial number to be 10 000 but it is increasing," foreign
ministry spokesperson Dina Mufti told AFP, adding that the final total once the
mass airlift ends is now expected to be around 80 000.
started repatriating citizens living illegally in Saudi Arabia after a
seven-month amnesty period to formalise their status expired on 4 November,
sparking violent protests between Saudi police and Ethiopian migrants preparing
to leave the country.
Ethiopian government said three of its citizens were killed in clashes.
Dina said the
government is spending $2.6m on the repatriation programme to bring citizens
home, the majority women.
said relations with Saudi Arabia remain "sisterly", with Dina saying
the government's main priority was to bring citizens home.
focussing on the repatriation... we have not evaluated that one, we have not
assessed that," he said, referring to Ethio-Saudi ties.
numbers of Ethiopians - often women seeking domestic work - travel to the
Middle East each year looking for jobs.
About 200 000
women sought work abroad in 2012, according to Ethiopia's ministry of labour
and social affairs.
International Labour Organisation (ILO) said many face physical and mental
abuse, low pay, discrimination and poor working conditions.
mistreatment of Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia has sparked outrage in Ethiopia.
emotional speech this month, Ethiopia's Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom said
the government was in "around the clock crisis management" mode
trying to bring citizens back.
million citizens, Ethiopia is Africa's most populous country after Nigeria, but
also one of the continent's poorest, with the majority of people earning less
than two dollars a day.
At least 27%
of women and 13% of men are unemployed, according to the ILO.