Taarifa Rwanda

Saudi Arabia Releases 1,400 Ethiopian Prisoners

The Ethiopia Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has disclosed that it has secured the release of 1,400 Ethiopian nationals who were imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.

In a press statement released on Wednesday, MoFA said the 1,400 Ethiopians were released from Saudi prisons after discussions between Ethiopian and Saudi authorities.

The statement said the first 300 released Ethiopians will be flown back to Ethiopia on Thursday morning with the rest 1,100 expected to return home in the coming few days.

The MoFA statement didn’t mention the type of crimes the 1,400 Ethiopians were serving prison sentences for.

However, in recent years Saudi Arabia has arrested thousands of Ethiopians accused of various crimes ranging from illegal entry to brewing illicit alcoholic drinks.

It is estimated every year thousands of Ethiopians enter Saudi Arabia illegally looking for better economic opportunities.

After illegally entering Saudi Arabia, the Ethiopians are often employed in informal economic sectors without having valid residence permits.

Meanwhile, the East African country also on Wednesday disclosed the repatriation of some 500 nationals from Kenya in a few days period. 

The 500 Ethiopians had been serving prison sentences in Kenya after being convicted of illegal entry, state media outlet Ethiopia Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) reported on Wednesday. 

The 500 Ethiopian nationals were returned home after discussions between the Ethiopian and Kenyan governments to return all Ethiopians detained in Kenya, it was noted. 

The 500 Ethiopian nationals had initially planned to use Kenya as a transit point en route to their final destination, South Africa.

Human traffickers reportedly use various countries as transit points to smuggle Ethiopians to South Africa.

According to the Ethiopia Ministry of Foreign Affairs, human traffickers charge an average of 3,500 to 4,000 U.S. dollars to smuggle a single individual from Ethiopia to South Africa.   

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