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Saudi Arabia pledges to assist and protect Ethiopians working in the country

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Saudi Arabian authorities have pledged to provide the necessary assistance and protection to Ethiopian citizens working in their country.

The pledge comes after a report by Human Rights Watch, released in August 2019, reported that Ethiopian migrants and refugees who have undertaken dangerous journeys to find work in Saudi Arabia are encountering abusive prison conditions before being forcibly deported en masse with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

In a discussion with Ethiopia’s Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Dr Ergoge Tesfaye on Monday, 16 September 2019, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia, Sami Jamil Abdullah, said Saudi Arabia will give protection to African migrants, particularly Ethiopians.

The officials discussed ways to cement the overseas employment agreement signed between the two countries, according to the ministry.

Based on interviews with deportees in the Ethiopian capital Addis, Ababa, the report by Human Rights Watch documented exploitation, trafficking and violence that begin, according to the group, from the moment the migrants set off across the Red Sea or Gulf of Aden to reach the Arabian Peninsula.

The report said the people are being exploited and tortured by a network of trafficking groups as they try to cross into Saudi Arabia, adding that officials in the two countries and Ethiopia have done little to protect them from abuses at the hands of traffickers and security forces.

During the talks, Dr Ergoge appreciated the ambassador for the discussion on bilateral issues of mutual concern and his commitment to solving the difficulty in the deployment of overseas workers.

The Saudi Ambassador also appreciated the commitment of the ministry to prevent illegal migrant workers from traveling abroad.

Following the discussion, both parties agreed to work closely and exchange information on overseas deployment, visa, employment agencies and other issues.