There is ominous news looming over undocumented immigrants residing in Saudi Arabia this time of the month. The kingdom has once again publicized that it will deport every worker that will be unable to provide working papers. It is to be remembered that in 2013, a similar thing has happened with several reports from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International condemning the methods of deportation as inhumane and degrading.
This scheme directly influences several hundred thousand Ethiopian migrant workers that have gone to Saudi looking for employment. The high unemployment and several other factors ailing the youth at home have prompted them to seek employment in the Gulf country despite a bad reputation and consistent dangers beginning from the travel to employment.
Following this deportation scare, several thousands of Ethiopians have safely arrived to their home country, although a larger number still resides in Saudi Arabia. It is to be understood that although the Kingdom has pushed the deadline for return a second time, people have stayed there mainly because of lack of money to buy airfare and due to procedural problems at the Ethiopian Embassy in Saudi Arabia.
Jemila Fantahun is one of the Ethiopian workers that have arrived to her country safely. She is currently staying at a shelter provided by the Red Cross at one of the three sites that give such services. She states that every Ethiopian she knows is trying to come back home, but is unable to. She has been estranged from her husband due to him failing to obtain correct papers from the embassy.
There are several thousand heartbreaking stories similar to this. However, the most pressing question to ask would be, what is being done for these people? So far, the only piece of information that is available in this regard would be the help being provided by Red Cross.
The Ethiopian Red Cross has three sites for this operation, namely: Dedesa, Airport and the Ethiopian Sports Academy around Gerji. They have had immense help in aiding to set these people up. They provide free health care, transport, and phone calls to families. They also provide banking service from Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, regardless of the hour the migrant needs help be it the middle of night or day.
This operation has been going on for about a month and a half and several thousand people have gotten services. However, an inside report has said that compared to last time, service for this time around has significantly decreased. Most efforts almost feel like an afterthought with even meals not being given on time.
It is a saddening aspect to witness fellow citizens suffering as such to win at the game of life. And even though the Red Cross’s attempt to ease the problem should be lauded, the issue of illegal migration remains prevalent. Ethiopia, as a state, needs to create a solution to stop the influx rather than take reactive measures after the event has happened.