An Ethiopian official working at a screening point for the coronavirus at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | Photo: EPA/Stringer
An Ethiopian official working at a screening point for the coronavirus at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | Photo: EPA/Stringer

Thousands of Ethiopian migrants have returned to their home country from Sudan, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia and other countries, according to IOM. Many returned because they lost their jobs abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported Tuesday that 15,300 Ethiopian migrants had returned to their home country since April 1, 2020.

Of them, 4,440 had been living in Sudan, 3,700 in Djibouti, 3,000 in Saudi Arabia, 2,700 in Somalia, 640 in Lebanon and 1,000 in other countries including Kuwait.

Quarantine for returning migrants

IOM said in a statement that the returning migrants had been subjected to screening for symptoms of the coronavirus and that they received personal protection equipment (PPE) from Ethiopia's Public Health Institute.

Most were young women working in the Middle East, all of whom have been placed in government quarantine centers.

IOM said that it is providing travel allowances to migrants so they can get back to their towns and villages across the country, after leaving quarantine.

"The quarantine center is the most critical part of the journey for returning migrants amid the COVID-19 pandemic," said Milun Jovanovic, the head of operations at IOM Ethiopia. "We are doing our best to provide all the necessary items at quarantine centers together with the government and streamlining efforts by other UN agencies and non-governmental organizations."

More migrants expected to return

More returning migrants are expected in Ethiopia in the coming days and weeks. Meanwhile, COVID-19 infection rates in Ethiopia are still rising, leading to concern among officials, who are trying to reduce the number of people who are moving into and across the country.

"One of the ways to get COVID-19 under control is to restrict movement. The recommendation is to assist citizens where they are instead of moving them," said Tsion Teklu, the state foreign minister of Ethiopia.

An estimated 460,000 Ethiopians migrated to the Gulf between 2008 and 2013. Hundreds of thousands of others have migrated through irregular channels, mainly via Yemen, the IOM statement said.
 

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