Ethiopia has in recent days returned home 840 nationals who had been serving prison sentences in Saudi Arabia, an Ethiopian official said on Tuesday.
Speaking exclusively to Xinhua, Nebiat Getachew, Spokesman for Ethiopia Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), said the 840 Ethiopians were released from Saudi prisons and returned home in recent days after consultations with Saudi authorities.
Getachew said most of the 840 Ethiopians returned home from Saudi Arabia were serving prison sentences for entering Saudi Arabia illegally. “Ethiopia is also working with the UN’s migration agency, International Organization for Migration (IOM) to return home Ethiopians stranded in war torn Yemen while trying to cross to Saudi Arabia,” Getachew told Xinhua.
Despite a growing economy and public awareness campaigns on the dangers of human trafficking by the Ethiopian government, it is estimated that thousands of Ethiopians are trafficked to Saudi Arabia as well as various other countries, where they are mainly engaged in the informal economy.
In addition to imprisonment and various other hurdles, desperate Ethiopian and other East African migrants also often encounter many deadly calamities as they attempt to cross the dangerous Red Sea route hoping to reach the Middle East via war-torn Yemen. They are mainly aiming at reaching Yemen’s northern neighbour Saudi Arabia.