9 January 2014

Ethiopia: Deported From Saudi Arabia, Ethiopian Migrants Find Dilemma At Home

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To pay his smugglers, he had saved 4,000 birr [$209] out of the 50 birr daily wage he earned as a construction worker in the capital, Addis Ababa.

"My family is poor, and all I have known is poverty. I wanted to earn enough money to help my family, and people told me about jobs in Saudi Arabia which were paying [better] than what I earned as manual laborer in Ethiopia," he told IRIN.

He hopes that the Ethiopian government's promise to create more jobs can help halt irregular migration to the Middle East.


Tassew lives with his sister, Negash, a 35-year-old cleaner and mother of one, and another sibling Mesfin in a tiny tin-walled shack in Addis Ababa.

Tassew and Mesfin were among those deported from Saudi Arabia. Negash now supports both of them.

"They could support me when they were there," Negash told IRIN, "but now, I will use my small salary to support the four of us. It is hard because they came with nothing, and they will take a long time to get jobs here. They will burden me, but I can't send them away."

She added, "I saved a little of what they sent me to start a business, but now I can't [save money] because I will use it to provide for them and myself."

Tassew does not rule out looking for opportunities outside again. "If it is hard to go to Saudi Arabia, I will look out for other countries where I can find work. I can go to Sudan or somewhere, because here, it is hard to be employed," he said.

According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Ethiopia "remains one of the world's poorest countries. About 29 per cent of the population lives below the national poverty line".

Fatima, 23

Fatima,* 23, stayed in Saudi Arabia for just six months before she was deported.

She told IRIN, "I haven't finished paying my smugglers, and now they will want their money. I still owe them 5,000 birr [$260], and they will now auction my parents' property" through their agents in Addis Ababa, where her parents live.

"I was to pay them when I arrived and found a job in Saudi Arabia. I was deported before I could get enough money," she said.

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations.]

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Migrants Dilemma In Ethiopia

Ethiopian migrants deported from Saudi Arabia await registration at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa

At least 144,000 migrants have returned home from Saudi Arabia where they had gone in search of a better life, a number the government had not antcipated or budgeted for. Read more »