Saudi Arabia

  1. Ethiopians detained in Saudi Arabia return home

    Kalkidan Yibeltal

    BBC News, Addis Ababa

    People being given bottles of water

    A group of Ethiopians who have just been flown back from Saudi Arabia have been speaking about their harsh treatment there.

    On Thursday, Ethiopian officials welcomed 147 women and children from a flight paid for by the Saudi authorities.

    Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia began deporting thousands of undocumented Ethiopian migrants, who had gone there looking for work.

    In recent months, Ethiopia has struggled to create enough space in quarantine to welcome the people back and make sure that they are not bringing coronavirus with them.

    This has led some of the migrants to be held in degrading conditions in Saudi Arabia, the UK's Daily Telegraph newspaper revealed.

    On her arrival at the airport in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, one woman, who didn't want us to use her name, told the BBC that she spent six months in a detention camp.

    "It was very difficult. First, there were more than 200 of us in one room.

    "If someone was sick, they wouldn’t come to visit us to help.

    "We slept on the floors - some close to the toilet. I didn’t think I’d come home.”

    Another woman said: "I am truly happy that I have come back home.

    "I didn’t think I’d come because of all the hardships we saw there.

    "I spent seven months detained there. Now I praise Allah that I am back.”

    They had both gone to Saudi Arabia to seek work as domestic workers.

    All 147 will be taken into mandatory quarantine at a university campus.

  2. Ethiopia to repatriate migrants from Saudi

    Kalkidan Yibeltal

    BBC News, Addis Ababa

    Ethiopia's foreign ministry says it will begin repatriating about 2,000 migrants stranded in Saudi Arabia from next week.

    The announcement comes after a UK-based newspaper, The Telegraph, reported that hundreds, if not thousands, of Ethiopian migrants had been locked up in squalid conditions in detention centres in Saudi Arabia to curb the spread of coronavirus.

    Conditions were so appalling that people were dying of heatstroke, disease or by taking their own lives, it reported.

    The Telegraph also reported that a leaked document, with the stamp of the Ethiopian consulate in the city of Jeddah, warned Ethiopians of “legal repercussions” if they continued to upload photos and videos from the detention centres on social media.

    The foreign ministry denied it had refused to help the stranded migrants, but said it was constrained by resources.

    It blamed human traffickers for the migrants' plight.

    The authorities thanked Saudi Arabia for assisting the migrants and for its willingness to assist in the repatriation process.

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