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Unregistered Ethiopian Workers Return from Saudi Arabia


420 undocumented Ethiopians have arrived at Bole International airport on Sunday, April 23, 2017. Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign affairs has been working for the safe return of Ethiopians since Prince Mohammed bin Naif, crown prince of Saudi Arabia gave a 90-day warning to undocumented migrant workers in what the kingdom calls “A Nation Free of Violators campaign” that started on March 29, 2017. 

228 Ethiopian returnees arrived at 2 am early Sunday morning and the remaining 198 arrived in Addis Ababa a few hours later and were received by high government officials. According to Abdul Baset Qadir, government spokesman 60 of them are receiving International Migration Organization (IOM) shelter and transport assistance.

At the start of the 90 day Amnesty period for illegal immigrants in March, the Ethiopian government set up a national taskforce and a command post based in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to spearhead the safe return of Ethiopians residing in Saudi Arabia. Additionally last week a duty-free scheme for household goods was launched to encourage Ethiopians to return. 

A mass deportation effort in November 2013 led to deaths and serious clashes between Saudi Arabian police and migrants in Riyadh. Heated debate and accusations of widespread brutality and abuse were made against the Saudi governmentHuman Rights Watch and others.

The Saudi Gazette, a leading English-language paper, states that 19 government authorities are aiming this year's campaign against expatriates from all countries who do not have valid identification papers.