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Managing the Influx of Vulnerable Ethiopian Migrants Returning from Saudi Arabia

Posted by African Press International on December 4, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 3, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Government of Ethiopia are working together to manage the influx of vulnerable Ethiopian migrants returning from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Ethiopia’s Bole International Airport receives an average of 7,000 migrants every day, as the Ethiopian government works around the clock to facilitate organized movement of its citizens from Saudi Arabia. Over 75,000 migrants have returned to Ethiopia since the operation began on 13 November 2013.

Out of the migrants that have arrived to date, 47,479 are men, 25,000 are women and 3,391 are children. 51,000 migrants are still expected to arrive in Addis Ababa in an exercise that the government estimates will be completed by 15 December.

IOM is facilitating airport reception, registration and transportation from the airport to the Transit Centres and onward to the bus station. For their transport home, IOM is providing $50 bus fare. Water and high energy biscuits are also given to the migrants at the airport reception and meals, water and high energy biscuits are provided at the Transit Centres. IOM has set up clinics at the airport where the arriving migrants can receive medical assistance. The arriving migrants have been treated for Upper Respiratory Tract Infections, Trauma, Urinary Tract Infections, pneumonia, dyspepsia and coughs. In collaboration with the Ethiopian Red Cross and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, ambulances are on standby to transfer patients that may need specialized medical attention.

The Ethiopian government has dedicated seven Transit Centres with a carrying capacity of 6,000 individuals in the capital Addis Ababa. In addition, the World Food Programme has provided seven tents that are used for accommodation. Migrants who arrive in the evening are hosted in these Transit Centres overnight and allowed to go home in the morning. Migrants who arrive during the day are allowed to get a bus home. This ensures that the Transit Centres have room to accommodate new arrivals.

Unaccompanied minors are temporarily hosted at the IOM Transit Centre in Addis Ababa as efforts are made to trace their families. In coordination with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC), IOM is assisting in family tracing and re-unifying the minors with their families. The unaccompanied minors are transported to their areas of origin in the company of a social worker and handed over to their parents or guardians.

IOM has set up clinics within these reception centres and migrants who need medical attention are able to readily access it. The clinics are supported by five IOM doctors and 17 nurses including some medical personnel from the Ministry of Health. Psychosocial counselors have also been availed at the Transit Centres for migrants in need of counseling.

In support of the IOM and government initiatives, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has donated non-food items worth $100,000 for use at the Transit Centres. The IRC has also donated NFIs worth $60,000.

Thousands of irregular migrant workers have reportedly been arrested and deported after the expiry of an amnesty period during which the workers were allowed to legalize their status. The measure prompted an exodus of over 1 million foreigners.



International Office of Migration (IOM)


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