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Ethiopia Launches Repatriation of 70,000 Nationals Stranded in Saudi Arabia


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In a concerted effort to alleviate the plight of its citizens facing dire conditions abroad, Ethiopia has embarked on a large-scale repatriation initiative aimed at bringing back approximately 70,000 nationals from Saudi Arabia. The decision, announced last week in Addis Ababa, underscores the Ethiopian government’s commitment to addressing the welfare of its citizens, even as it grapples with internal displacement challenges and humanitarian crises.Ethiopia Launches Repatriation of 70,000 Nationals Stranded in Saudi Arabia

State Minister Birtukan Ayano unveiled the repatriation program, marking the third such initiative since 2018, with a focus on assisting “Ethiopians who are in a difficult situation.” The endeavor, set to commence in early April, signifies a multifaceted effort requiring significant logistical and financial resources to ensure the safe return and resettlement of the affected individuals.

Tayba Hassan, Director-General of Refugees and Returnees, emphasized the importance of regional administrations in facilitating the successful reintegration of returnees into their native communities. Ethiopia, known for its hospitality towards refugees and returnees, has previously relied on international donors to support resettlement efforts, particularly amid ongoing challenges stemming from local conflicts and displacement crises.Ethiopia

While Ethiopia’s commitment to repatriating its citizens has garnered international attention and commendation, concerns persist regarding the capacity to address the multifaceted needs of returnees amidst existing budgetary constraints and infrastructure challenges. The government’s efforts to rebuild infrastructure and provide essential services in conflict-affected regions, such as Tigray, have been hampered by resource limitations and ongoing security threats.

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Against the backdrop of mounting humanitarian needs and funding cuts for refugee operations, Ethiopia’s partnership with international organizations and donor countries remains crucial in ensuring the effective resettlement and reintegration of returnees. The United States, a key donor for humanitarian services in Ethiopia, has provided substantial support in the past and continues to advocate for increased assistance to address pressing humanitarian needs.Ethiopia Launches Repatriation of 70,000 Nationals Stranded in Saudi Arabia

However, past repatriation efforts have faced significant challenges, with returnees often encountering difficulties in reintegrating into society due to limited resources and economic opportunities. The International Organization for Migration (IOM), which has been involved in previous repatriation initiatives, has highlighted the need for comprehensive support measures to facilitate the successful reintegration of returnees and address their diverse needs.

As Ethiopia embarks on this latest repatriation endeavor, the focus remains on ensuring the dignified return and sustainable reintegration of its citizens, while also addressing the root causes of irregular migration and displacement. With concerted efforts and international support, Ethiopia endeavors to provide a pathway for its citizens to rebuild their lives and contribute to the country’s social and economic development.


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