Ethiopia issues 30,000 emergency passports for Saudi-stranded workers
The New Arab
May 24, 2017
Ethiopia's government has issued over 30,000 'laissez-passer' visas to its citizens working in Saudi Arabia in a bid to facilitate repatriation efforts following a mass deportation order.
In March, Saudi Arabia announced it was deporting undocumented migrants, granting a 90-day amnesty period in which foreigners could leave without facing a penalty.
The Kingdom announced similar measures in 2013, eventually expelling 100,000 Ethiopians from the country.
The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry has established a task force to facilitate repatriation efforts, Horn Affairs reported, which includes duty-free privileges for those returning.
Last week, the Ethiopian prime minister made a televised appeal urging Ethiopians to leave before the amnesty window ends on June 29.
Saudi officials have indicated that up to one million undocumented migrants, largely from African and Asian countries, could be deported after the June deadline.
Despite issuing tens of thousands of travel documents at diplomatic missions, only a few thousand Ethiopians have so far returned, Horn Affairs said.
There are an estimated 400,000 undocumented Ethiopian workers in Saudi Arabia.
In early May, local media reported that Saudi ministries had been given three years to fire all of their expatriate workers in the latest clampdown against foreign labour in the kingdom.
It came as part of the kingdom's ambitious national transformation programme for 2020, which will see government positions filled by Saudis and a massively reduced public sector.
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