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44,500 Ethiopians repatriated from Saudi Arabia

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopia Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) announced on Thursday it has repatriated 44,500 nationals stranded in Saudi Arabia during a six months period.

Speaking to local and foreign media outlets, Meles Alem, Spokesperson at MoFA, said the 44,500 Ethiopians who were stranded in Saudi Arabia were repatriated with the joint efforts of Ethiopian and Saudi authorities.

“Ethiopia beefed its diplomatic personnel at its consulates in Saudi Arabia to help for the mass repatriation of nationals who were stranded in Saudi Arabia without proper travel documents,” said Alem.

It is estimated every year thousands of Ethiopians travel across the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia looking for better economic opportunities.

These Ethiopians were often employed in the informal sector without having valid residency permits.

In a bid to curb illegal migration, Ethiopia signed an agreement in May 2017 with Saudi Arabia for an overseas employment agreement to help future legal Ethiopian migrants.



Ethiopia lobbies for release of 18 nationals detained in Qatar

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopia Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) announced on Sunday it is lobbying for the release of 18 nationals detained in Qatar.

In a press statement, MoFA said the Ethiopian Embassy in Qatari is holding discussions with Qatari authorities for the release of 18 nationals currently serving prison time.

The MoFA statement did not identify the crimes the Ethiopians are serving prison sentences for.

In recent years Gulf nations including Qatar have arrested and convicted Ethiopians for various crimes including illegal entry, sale of illicit alcohol and sale of narcotic substances.

It is estimated that every year thousands of Ethiopians looking for better economic opportunities abroad are trafficked through Somalia, Djibouti and the Red Sea to reach the Arabian Peninsula.

MoFA added Qatari authorities had already freed eight Ethiopian detainees as a good will gesture during the gulf country’s national day celebrations on Tuesday.


Ethnic violence in western Ethiopia displaces 255,000 people

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said on Wednesday about 255,000 people have been displaced by ethnic violence in western Ethiopia.

In a press statement, UNOCHA said ethnic violence along the common borders of Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz regional states since September has displaced about 255,000 people.

UNOCHA further said it urgently needs 25.5 million U.S. dollars to address urgent life-saving needs of people displaced by ethnic violence in western Ethiopia.

The ethnic violence was triggered in September after the killings of four high-ranking Benishangul Gumuz regional state officials in neighboring Oromia regional state.

The officials were reportedly heading back home after attending an inter-regional security meeting between Oromia and Benishangul regional states.

The border areas of Benishangul Gumuz and Oromia regional states have in recent years witnessed deadly unrest involving various ethnic groups residing in the border areas. The dispute is reportedly over access to land and state resources.

Ethiopia follows an ethnic federalism model, which has been credited with giving self-governance rights to more than 80 ethnic groups that make up the country’s estimated 105 million people.

However, critics claim that the ethnic federalism model magnifies ethnic diversity at the expense of national unity, leading to occasional ethnic tension and clashes.


Fifteen Ethiopians arrested for suspected role in killings of government officials

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia announced on Monday it has arrested 15 individuals accused of carrying out assassinations of local government officials.

In a press statement, Oromia Communication Bureau (OCB) said the 15 individuals are suspected of masterminding and carrying out a campaign of assassinations targeting local government officials of Oromia regional state. The suspects are also accused of targeting security forces and civilians.

OCB further said several guns, grenades and other weapons were seized along with the 15 suspects.

The report didn’t mention how many people are believed to have been killed by the suspects and their possible structural affiliation.

However, it said the 15 suspects are believed to have contacts with armed groups operating in some parts of Oromia, an implicit reference to the armed group Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

OLF is an armed group claiming to fight for the rights of ethnic Oromos who make up about 35 percent of Ethiopia’s estimated 105 million population.

It is estimated there are around 2,800 OLF fighters based mainly in the western and southern parts of Oromia regional state, the principal operating ground of OLF.

OLF rebels have in recent months been accused of conducting deadly assaults on military and civilian targets, including the Sept. 26 killing of four government officials.

OLF was designated as a terrorist group by the Ethiopian parliament in 2011. It was removed from the terror list in July by the Ethiopian government.


Ethiopia arrests more than 50 officials in anti-corruption sweep

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia announced on Tuesday it has arrested 56 government officials in an anti-corruption sweep.

The 56 government officials who work for Ethiopia’s Oromia regional state, located in the central part of the country, are accused of misappropriating and embezzling public funds, state media outlet Oromia Broadcasting Network (OBN) reported.

The Oromia-Anti-Corruption Commission is planning to conduct further arrests in the coming days, according to OBN.

In November, Ethiopia arrested dozens of civilian military figures, who are suspected of engaging in corrupt activities.

The arrest of the suspects, part of a major crackdown on corruption and human rights abuse, is said to be part of the promise made by the new administration of PM Ahmed to the public following his appointment in April this year.


Ethiopia says it has no information on border restrictions imposed by Eritrea

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopia Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said on Thursday it has no information on border restrictions imposed by neighboring Eritrea.

Speaking to local and foreign media outlets, Meles Alem, Spokesperson at MoFA, said the Ethiopian government has no information on reports Eritrea has severely restricted movement of people and goods from Ethiopia to Eritrea.

“I have no information regarding reports Eritrea has restricted movement of people from Ethiopia to Eritrea, I will verify the information and get back to you,” said Alem.

Recently, reports coming out of Ethiopia said Eritrea has imposed restrictions on one border point - the Rama-Adi-Quala border crossing.

There has been no immediate remark from Eritrean and Ethiopian officials on the reasons behind the restrictions on Ethiopian travelers planning to cross to Eritrea.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki re-opened the two countries common border on September 11, more than 20 years after it was shut with the outbreak of bloody war between the two nations.

Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a bloody two-year border war from 1998-2000, leaving an estimated 70,000 people dead from both sides, before a December 2000 Algiers peace agreement ended the war. However, the two countries had remained in a state of armed standoff until recently.

On June 5, the executive committee of the ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), passed a decision expressing commitment to an unconditional implementation of Algiers peace agreement with Eritrea.

Eritrea gave a positive response to Ethiopia’s peace gesture two weeks later, and ever since then a series of rapid diplomatic moves has seen Ahmed and Afwerki visit their respective countries in July, formally ending two decades of mutual animosity.

The rapid diplomatic thaw between the two countries has also seen Ethiopia and Eritrea restore air links, telephone lines, trade routes and re-open their respective diplomatic missions.


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