Ethiopia lifts ban on domestic workers moving overseas

Ethiopians attend a religious festival in Addis Ababa on January 19, 2018. Ethiopia has lifted a ban on domestic workers moving overseas after passing a new law to guard against ill-treatment. (AFP / ZACHARIAS ABUBEKER)
Updated 02 February 2018

Ethiopia lifts ban on domestic workers moving overseas

ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia has lifted a ban on domestic workers moving overseas after passing a new law to guard against ill-treatment, a government official said Thursday.
Africa’s second-most populous country instituted the ban five years ago following reports of abuse, and complaints that employment agencies lured Ethiopians into working abroad in illegal and appalling conditions.
Abebe Haile, a director at the labor ministry, said the new law regulates employment agencies that connect jobless Ethiopians with work in foreign countries.
The government has also opened training centers for low-skilled workers heading abroad.
“Taking these preparations into account, this ban has been lifted, so we’re now ready to start the overseas employment services,” Abebe told a press conference.
Ethiopia is one of the continent’s poorest countries and, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO), a major source of migrants particularly to the Middle East, where there were around 460,000 Ethiopian workers in 2013 when the ban came into force.
At the time reports of worker abuse were rampant, including a video that emerged online showing an Ethiopian maid in Lebanon being dragged by her hair in public by her employers. She later killed herself in hospital.
While some Ethiopians work legally in the Middle East, others travel without visas despite having to cross through war-torn Yemen and risk a perilous boat trip across the Gulf of Aden.
Last week at least 30 people drowned when a boat carrying Somali and Ethiopian migrants capsized off Yemen’s coast.
Saudi Arabia — a popular destination for Ethiopian migrants — has carried out mass deportations of illegal foreign workers in the past few years.
Riyadh last year announced it would begin deporting illegal migrants again and Ethiopia’s foreign ministry told state media that more than 14,000 of its citizens have been repatriated since November.
Abebe said Ethiopia has signed bilateral agreements with Kuwait, Jordan and Qatar to govern the flow of low-skilled workers, and is working on agreements with other nations.


Thousands return to government-seized areas in northwest Syria: state media

Updated 35 min 33 sec ago

Thousands return to government-seized areas in northwest Syria: state media

  • The Syrian Observatory reported “around 3,000 people” going home from other areas under regime control
  • The Idlib region is one of the last holdouts of opposition forces

DAMASCUS: Thousands have returned to their hometowns in northwest Syria after military advances by government loyalist against militants and allied rebels, state media said Sunday.
“Thousands of citizens return to their villages and towns of the northern Hama countryside and the southern Idlib countryside,” state news agency SANA said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, reported “around 3,000 people” going home from other areas under regime control.
Since August 31, a cease-fire announced by regime backer Russia has largely held in northwestern Syria, though the Observatory has reported sporadic bombardment.
SANA said the returns came amid “government efforts to return the displaced to their towns and villages.”
The Idlib region of around three million people, many of them dispaced by fighting in other areas, is one of the last holdouts of opposition to forces backing Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Moscow announced the cease-fire late last month after four months of deadly violence that displaced 400,000 people, most of whom fled north within the jihadist-run bastion, according to the United Nations.
Regime forces had chipped away at the southern edges of the jihadist-run stronghold throughout August, retaking towns and villages in the north of Hama province and the south of Idlib province.
Syria’s civil war has killed more than 370,000 people since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.
Assad’s regime now controls more than 60 percent of the country after notching up a series of victories against rebels and jihadists with key Russian backing since 2015.
But a large chunk of Idlib, fully administered by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate since January, as well as a Kurdish-held swathe of the oil-rich northeast, remain beyond its reach.