16 November 2013

Ethiopia: Gov't Sends Diplomats After Thousands of Migrants Surrender to Saudi Police

Photo: VOA
Ethiopia moves to repatriate its citizen from Saudi Arabia over torture and killings (file photo).

Addis Ababa — The Ethiopian government announced on Saturday that it had sent a high-level delegation to Saudi Arabia to facilitate the safe repatriation of over 20 thousand undocumented Ethiopians.

The delegation which comprises of diplomats from the ministry of foreign affairs, as well as other senior government officials will discuss the issue with Saudi government officials.

Saudi officials are expected to explain the circumstances behind the deaths of three Ethiopian nationals killed by police during last week's crackdown against tens of thousands of illegal migrants.

Addis Ababa has condemned the "deplorable" killing of "innocent citizens" and last week summoned Saudi Arabia's ambassador in Addis Ababa to demand an official explanation.

At a press conference on Saturday, foreign affairs minister Tedros Adhanom, said that Addis Ababa has asked the Saudi government to launch a probe into the killings and the inhuman treatment against many Ethiopians in Saudi.

The Saudi government has promised to investigate and bring those responsible to justice, the minister said.

He said the Ethiopian government is preparing to create job opportunities for returnees and has allocated 50 million Birr to help them reintegrate.

Following the labour raid, some 23,000 undocumented Ethiopian migrants surrendered to Saudi police seeking to return home.

The workers presented themselves to police after the Ethiopian embassy in Riyadh made arrangements with Saudi authorities for them to be taken to temporary holding centres until they receive their exit visas.

Hundreds of Ethiopians have begun arriving in Addis Ababa fromSaudi Arabia, with officials putting the figure at 1,818 so far.

Addisu Amare, who is one of the returnees, told Sudan Tribune that the Saudi Arabian National Guard and Special Forces had unexpectedly carried out a raid on a neighbourhood populated by Ethiopians and forced them to surrender.

"Police were extremely hostile and used excessive force", said Amare, adding "they killed Ethiopians and nationals of other countries".

He said dozens of Ethiopians were also wounded during the clash.

Returnees have spoken of their appreciation of the efforts of the Ethiopian embassy in facilitating their safe return and safeguarding their rights.

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