The Ethiopian government has secured exit visas for about 40,000 of its undocumented citizens living in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has subsequently dispatched a team to Saudi to help in the safe return of the nationals who are taking advantage of an Amnesty program between the two governments.
Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Workneh Gebeyehu who visited Saudi also held talks with the national airline, Ethiopian Airlines, on how best to bring back the nationals.
Barely a week ago, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn expressed worry over the refusal of nationals illegally resident in Saudi to return despite the amnesty program.
Desalegn said he feared that the Saudi government will resort to forcibly deport Ethiopians who have refused to voluntarily return home.
The Premier was quoted by the Ethiopia News Agency as saying, “the situation that made the Saudi Government forcibly deport our citizens is being created. Therefore, it is better if our citizens come back home before various problems arise seizing the opportunity they are given even in the remaining short period”.
The 90 day amnesty lasts till the end of June. Authorities say the numbers of people they expected to return under the program was all but underwhelming.
The period for illegal foreigners to leave the oil-producing giant started on March 29, 2017. Those who fail to leave will be subjected to fines or face legal measures, which include forced deportation.
Most rich Middle East countries hire thousands of domestic helpers from Africa and Asia. Most of these helpers often complain of abuse from their employers.