Ethiopian authorities have been alarmed by a surge in the number of people previously deported by Saudi Arabia who are trying to return to the oil-rich kingdom despite a government ban on traveling there for work.
Over 1200 would-be migrants were arrested recently as they tried to cross the border into Somaliland, from which traffickers had promised to take them to Yemen by boat and from there to Saudi Arabia, Tassew Chalew, Harari regional state police commander, told Anadolu Agency.
“They were caught in the 30 days since a day before,” Chalew said. “Just three days ago, their number stood at 700.”
According to Chalew, many of those arrested were previously deported by Saudi Arabia for illegal residence.
“Most of them are the same ones who were deported recently from Saudi Arabia,” Chalew, who is also responsible for external relations, told AA.
Saudi Arabia has deported hundreds of thousands of foreign workers since the government introduced new regulations on undocumented workers in March 2013.
In December of last year, Saudi deported more than 160,000 Ethiopians working in the kingdom on grounds that they lacked the necessary documentation.
And although the Ethiopian government claims to have created more than four million new jobs over the last three years, many Ethiopians still appear willing to make the perilous journey through Somalia and Yemen in hopes of finding employment in Saudi Arabia.
Chalew said the arrested immigrants had been returned to their respective families.
“The Ethiopians [who were] prevented from crossing to Somaliland underwent a rehabilitation process offered by the government in collaboration with the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM),” Chalew said.