Deported Ethiopians endure rampant abuse


Ethiopians deported from Saudi Arabia. File photo

from ADANE BIKILA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
ADDIS ABABA, (CAJ News) ETHIOPIAN authorities have reportedly detained, mistreated and forcibly disappeared ethnic Tigrayans recently deported from Saudi Arabia.

The development adds to the human rights violations documented in the northern region of Tigray, which spilled into civil war at the end of 2020.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) revealed the abuse of those deported from Saudi Arabia.

“Tigrayan migrants who have experienced horrific abuse in Saudi custody are being locked up in detention facilities upon returning to Ethiopia,” said Nadia Hardman, refugee and migrant rights researcher at HRW.

The activist said Saudi Arabia should offer protection to Tigrayans at risk, while Ethiopia should release all arbitrarily detained deportees.

In January 2021, the Ethiopian government announced it would cooperate in the repatriation of 40 000 of its nationals detained in Saudi Arabia, beginning with a 1 000 a week.

About half of returnees from Saudi Arabia between November 2020 and June 2021 were Tigrayan.

Deportations increased significantly between late June and mid-July, with over 30 000 reportedly deported.

The surge in repatriations coincided with an increase in profiling, arbitrary detentions, and forcible disappearances of Tigrayans by Ethiopian authorities in Addis Ababa following the withdrawal of Ethiopian federal forces from the Tigray region and an expansion of the Tigray conflict.

Unemployment and other economic difficulties, drought and human rights abuses have driven hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians to migrate over the past decade.

Some have travelled by boat across the Red Sea and then by land through Yemen to Saudi Arabia.

– CAJ News

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