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Ethiopia repatriates tens of thousands of its citizens deported from Saudi Arabia

February 5, 2014 at 1:23 am

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Wednesday that Ethiopia has now repatriated almost 140,000 of its citizens who were living illegally in Saudi Arabia. Thousands of others continue to return to Ethiopia every day.

Illegal workers began to return in large numbers last November, the date set by Saudi Arabia to begin the deportation of illegal workers. The efforts made by Addis Ababa to repatriate the workers began after the death of three Ethiopians during the riots following the Saudi campaign to collectively deport illegal workers who are living in the Kingdom.

A statement from the International Organisation for Migration, said: “Ethiopia and the organisation are concerned about the arrival of additional numbers of nationals, as well as the 35,000 immigrants who are waiting in the cities of Riyadh and Jeddah or arriving from Medina.”

The organisation clarified that the mass return, which began on 13 November, poses a serious financial burden and called for providing material support in order to continue providing “humanitarian support” for thousands of vulnerable people.

At the start of the deportations, Ethiopia had expected to receive about 30,000 citizens; however, so far, almost 140,000 have already been repatriated, which makes this the largest evacuation by air in modern history.