Around 23,000 illegal Ethiopian workers have surrendered to the Riyadh police, with the Saudi authorities now arranging for their repatriation, the Ethiopian ambassador told Arab News on Tuesday.
Muhammed Hassan Kabiera said the Ethiopian mission had intervened because many illegal workers were unsure about how to proceed when the amnesty ended.
“So our mission had discussions with the Saudi authorities and made arrangements to enable such citizens to hand themselves in,” the ambassador said.
Under the agreement, Kabiera said the workers would be kept at various holding centers until they could get exit visas. “We have been informed that so far about 23,000 Ethiopians have handed themselves in.”
The Ethiopian Embassy assisted 38,199 workers to correct their employment status during the amnesty period, which ended on Nov. 4, he said.
The envoy said the embassy’s officials and volunteers, with various Saudi government agencies, were working to get the workers travel documents.
“Ethiopia was one of the first countries to request an extension of the initial amnesty so that citizens would benefit and correct their status.” He said the extension “was gracefully accepted.”
However, when many workers could not rectify their status, the embassy began preparations for them to go home.
Referring to the incident in Manfouha on Saturday, where three people including a Saudi was killed, the envoy said it was unfortunate that clashes occurred between some Ethiopian nationals and Saudi youths. He sent his condolences to the relatives of those who lost their lives.
He said the clashes occurred because the illegal workers were frustrated they did not have a way to surrender to the police. They then took to the streets to voice their concerns, which led to clashes with some youths in the neighborhood.
“Such confrontations and clashes are unacceptable.” He said the safety and human rights of all people should be respected.