Ethiopian migrant return from Saudi Arabia jails


About 400 Ethiopian migrants serving prison sentences in Saudi Arabia returned home on Wednesday.

The returnees were welcomed at Bole International Airport, in the capital Addis Ababa, by an official from Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

However, there were no mention of crimes the returnees had committed, it is also unclear if they will continue serving their jail terms in local prisons or be set free.

According to the foreign affairs ministry, 32,890 Ethiopian migrants jailed in different countries have been returned in the past three months alone.

In May, the ministry secured the release of 1,400 Ethiopians imprisoned in the Gulf state following discussions between the two countries.

Thousands of Ethiopians migrate to the Gulf and southern Africa in search of economic opportunities, with many of them arrested for illegal entry to their destinations.

The Ethiopian government has also been struggling with resettling millions of internally-displaced people following ethnic conflicts.

Violence in the country, which intensified after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came into office in April 2018, had forced many people out of their homes.

Earlier this month, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde told the annual joint session of the House of People’s Representatives and the House of the Federation, that only 100,000 people remained in camps.

She also said that in the past one year the government had facilitated the return of more than 90,000 Ethiopian nationals who were “stranded” abroad and “living in difficulty” in several countries around the world. Some of them were in prison.


Christopher Ojilere