Saudi Arabia has deported close to 3,000 Ethiopian migrant workers to Addis Ababa, over the objections of the United Nations migration agency.
An internal U.N. memo seen by Reuters said the Saudis were expecting to deport 200,000 Ethiopians in total. Other Gulf Arab states, Kenya and other neighboring countries are also expected to repatriate migrants from the Horn of Africa, the memo said.
Catherine Sozi, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Ethiopia, commented in a press interview: “Large-scale migratory movements which are not planned make the transmission of the virus much more likely to continue. We are therefore calling for the temporary suspension of large-scale deportations,” she said.
Deportations have ramped up as migrant workers have lost their jobs due to economic lockdowns imposed by governments seeking to stem the spread of coronavirus.
“We are co-operating with individual countries to say ‘do you want your people back, are you able to receive them, what can we help to enable them to come back?’” a senior Saudi official said. “And where countries have responded positively, we are organizing flights, some of it we pay for to send them home, but we are not forcing people.”
Ethiopia has asked that the deportations stop during the coronavirus crisis, and on Saturday denied landing rights to a Saudi aircraft, it was reported by the Financial Times. The Ethiopian foreign ministry could not be contacted for comment.
Saudi Arabia began repatriating Ethiopian migrants from mid-2018, according to UN officials. At the time, there were as many as 500,000 Ethiopians in the kingdom working in the construction industry, as maids or as animal herders, they said.
As many as 300,000 Ethiopians were repatriated during the past two years. Nearly 2 million foreign workers have left the kingdom since the beginning of 2017 as Riyadh has implemented labor reforms and imposed tariffs on expatriates and their dependents.
Meanwhile, Africans are also being deported from southern China’s largest city where they say they have become targets of suspicion, racist abuse and subjected to forced evictions.
Several Africans told the Agence France Press news service they had been forcibly evicted from their homes and turned away by hotels.
“I’ve been sleeping under the bridge for four days with no food to eat… I cannot buy food anywhere, no shops or restaurants will serve me,” said Tony Mathias, an exchange student from Uganda who was forced from his apartment on Monday.
“We’re like beggars on the street,” the 24-year-old said.
Infections in Guangzhou have sparked a torrent of abuse online, with many Chinese internet users posting racist comments and calling for all Africans to be deported.
Last week a controversial cartoon depicting foreigners as different types of trash to be sorted through went viral on social media.
China denies the accusations.
SOURCE: Global Information Network