Amnesty International released its belated report on the affairs of Ethiopian migrants in Saudi Arabia prison and highlighted the treatment most are receiving that is life threatening including electric shocks when complaining and deaths to some. It called for the Ethiopian government to work with the government of Saudi Arabia and partners and transfer them to Ethiopia with urgency.
Calling their treatment as “hell”, the detained, and most from northern Yemen pushed out by the Huthi authorities and became victims of conflicts between the Saud and Huthi forces, in a nation that has remind unstable and at war for the last decade. Most Ethiopians are still believed to be stranded in the country with little resources and little support from international partners who are overwhelmed by the numbers of people affected and donor fatigue from rich nations.
“Thousands of Ethiopian migrants, who left their homes in search of a better life, have instead faced unimaginable cruelty at every turn. Confined to filthy cells, surrounded by death and disease, the situation is so dire that at least two people have attempted to take their own lives,” said Marie Forestier, Researcher and Advisor on Refugee and Migrant Rights at Amnesty International.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while overwhelmed with little resources highlighted in a statement some of the work it’s doing to help reduce the impact its citizens are facing in Saudi Arabia.
“Ethiopia continues to receive its most vulnerable citizens from the Kingdom of Saudi (KSA), although the COVID-19 infection rate spikes at home. Since April 2020, Ethiopia has repatriated and quarantined 3500 of the most vulnerable migrants. They have been in the process of being reintegrated into their community”, it said in a statement.
“Another round of 2000 comprised of women, unaccompanied minors, and migrants with health conditions have begun to arrive in the capital since the eve of Ethiopian New Year in a safe and dignified manner. So far, we have received 964 (58 infants), assisted them in the temporary transit places (Universities in the capital), and sent them to their destination community for reintegration”, the statement continued.
There has been an attempt to bring some of the most affected victims to Ethiopia, where many were transported courtesy of the Ethiopian government yet that has been a drop in the ocean for the further thousands that are still stranded in most Gulf Nations and North Africa, as they look for passage to Europe and other destinations.
“Despite travel restrictions due to COVID 19, at least 34,000 Ethiopian migrants returned to their home country globally between April 2020 and September 2020, including 3,998 from Saudi Arabia. This shows that returns have not totally halted and it is still possible to repatriate Ethiopian migrants, if both governments are committed to doing so”, the report noted.