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The Dire Situation of Ethiopian Migrant Workers in Saudi Arabia

Freedom House 

By Mahdere Paulos Hirigo

direA recent crackdown on Ethiopian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia is the result of a pervasive legacy of discrimination against Ethiopian citizens in that country.

Early in 2013, Saudi authorities announced plans to purge alleged illegal migrants from the kingdom in order to reduce the 12 percent unemployment rate and create jobs for Saudi citizens. In July, King Abdullah set an extended deadline of November 4 for migrants to either obtain proper documentation for their employment status or leave the country.

However, before the expiry of this amnesty, which was linked to employment rules in a new law, Saudi police rounded up thousands of migrant workers, particularly Ethiopians, in Riyadh and Jeddah, where most reside. As documented by various media outlets, the Ethiopian workers faced beatings, torture, and other abuse, and related violence has left at least three people dead. There have also been reports of migrant women being gang raped by vigilantes and Saudi police, with Ethiopian women suffering most substantially. Read More

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