Ethiopia sets up crisis group to help citizens in Saudi Arabia

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Addis Ababa, November 14 (WIC) – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has set up a crisis group chaired by the minister to address problems in connection with a visa crackdown on migrants in Saudi Arabia.
The crackdown began on November 4 after the expiry of a seven month period for illegal migrants in Saudi Arabia to obtain a legal status or leave the kingdom. 
Many migrants, including Ethiopians, are being targeted by the brutal crackdown. Three Ethiopians are reported to have been killed in clashes.
“Here at the Ministry, we have set up a crisis group which meets twice a day or whenever there are new developments,” Dina Mufti, MoFA spokesperson, told WIC. “The current problem our citizens are facing in Saudi is our prime focus at this moment.”
The government has begun repatriating its citizens from Saudi Arabia and the first batch of returnees, numbering 23, arrived at Bole International Airport yesterday. Many of the returnees had no shoes or bags.
“It will be the responsibility of all of us to reintegrate the returnees into the society, ” Dina told WIC.
Dina said the repatriation will continue and thousands are registering at Ethiopian embassy in Riyadh to obtain travel documents. The government does not have exact figures of the number of Ethiopians in Saudi without proper documents but expects ‘a large number’.
Dina said the two governments will continue discussions through diplomatic channels to redress the harms done.
Ethiopia’s foreign ministry on Monday summoned Saudi Arabia’s deputy ambassador to Ethiopia demanding explanation over the killing and ill-treatment of Ethiopian citizens in the gulf nation. Dr Tedros Adhanom, minister of foreign affairs, phoned his Saudi counterpart, Prince Saud al-Faisal, to express his concern in the handling of Ethiopian citizens.
Dina said the relation between the two countries “will not be, and should not” be stained. “Only the continuation of similar cases like this could affect the relation,” he added.  
Ethiopian community in Saudi Arabia and staffs from Ethiopian embassy in United Arab Emirates and Qatar are sent to Riyadh to assist in the repatriation process.