Ethiopia raps deady Saudi crackdown on migrants

Wed Nov 13, 2013 08:11:10

Thousands of Africans, mostly Ethiopians, have surrendered to Saudi authorities as Addis Ababa announced the death of three citizens during clashes in the Persian Gulf kingdom.

In Addis Ababa, Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti told reporters on Tuesday that three Ethiopians had been killed in Saudi Arabia during the police crackdown on illegal immigrants in the Persian Gulf state.

"The act of killing innocent civilians is uncalled for, we condemn that," Mufti said.

Ethiopia announced last week it would repatriate its citizens illegally living in Saudi Arabia after the seven-month amnesty period expired.

"We were forced to sell our furniture for very low prices and, in our haste, had to give away much of it," said one of the Ethiopians sitting on the ground in despair.

The men, women and children were lining up under the blazing sun in the poor Manfuhah neighborhood of the capital waiting to be packed into buses to carry them to deportation centers.

A fellow citizen said he was being deported despite having valid documents.

"Some of us have a legal residency permit, but our sponsors have disappeared with the money" paid to legalize their employment status, he said.

Saudi Arabia announced this year that migrants can only work for their sponsors, even those of them who have residency permits.

On Monday, the ultra-conservative kingdom began rounding up thousands of illegals following the expiry of a final amnesty for them to formalize their status.

Having an official sponsor is a legal requirement in Saudi Arabia and most other Persian Gulf states.

Buses have been transporting illegal immigrants to assembly centers near the capital Riyadh where authorities are finalizing procedures to deport them.

These centers have received some 17,000 foreign workers during the past few days, Saudi media reports said on Tuesday, quoting a police spokesman.


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