Ethiopia repatriates over 14,000 citizens from Saudi Arabia in one month – Xinhua

ADDIS ABABA, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) — The Ethiopian government on Thursday said it has repatriated over 14,000 undocumented citizens residing in Saudi Arabia over the past month.

Meles Alem, spokesperson for the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the East African country, since November 15, has repatriated some 14,130 Ethiopians from the Middle Eastern country.

Saudi Arabia in March had given a 90-day amnesty for undocumented migrants to voluntarily leave the country or face fine or imprisonment. The country has since then extended the amnesty for more than once.

The two countries managed to repatriate more than 70,000 undocumented Ethiopian migrants within the amnesty period.

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Even though the amnesty period is over, the Ethiopian government said it is still working to repatriate its citizens. Estimates suggest several hundred thousand undocumented Ethiopians still refused to leave Saudi Arabia.

Ethiopia, in a bid to curb illegal migration, had signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia earlier this year to help future Ethiopian migrants through legal overseas employment opportunities.

Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also said Thursday that it is working with its embassy in Cairo to protect its citizens currently stranded in Libya.

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According to Alem, the Ethiopian government is working to protect Ethiopians in Libya’s major cities, mainly Tripoli and Benghazi, from slavery and other challenges.

He indicated that the Ethiopian government is preparing travel documents to bring back vulnerable Ethiopians from the North African nation.

The exact number of Ethiopians stranded in Libya is yet to be identified by the Ethiopian government.

Hundreds of thousands of African migrants have in recent years used Libya, lying on the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, as a transit route to Europe.

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