Ethiopia asks for extension of Saudi amnesty deadline


Thousands of Ethiopians are still stuck in Saudi Arabia after a 90-day amnesty for undocumented migrants expired on Tuesday without all of them leaving , the Ethiopian government has said.

Communications Minister Negeri Lencho told the BBC that the government has asked for the amnesty to be extended.

He said more than 45,000 citizens had so far returned but there were many more waiting to go back home.

Ethiopians have been employed in Saudi Arabia in building and domestic work.

Mr Negeri said that the government was expecting “a positive response” from the Saudi authorities for its request to extend the amnesty.

In March 2017 the Saudi interior minister, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, announced the amnesty under a campaign called “A nation with no legal violator”.
During this period any one in breach of the country’s residency and labour rules or regulations would be free to leave without facing any penalties.

In 2013 a similar amnesty was announced, however any illegal migrant who did not leave Saudi Arabia had to face punishment by way of fines, prison or being deported.

During that time a number of Ethiopians were killed in clashes with the Saudi police as they were being rounded up for deportation.

Mr Negeri says that there was a slow uptake during the amnesty period because some people were sceptical the Saudi authorities would take action during the just ended period of Ramadan.

Minister Negeri added that a taskforce and money has been set aside to receive and resettle the Ethiopian returnees.

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