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  • Immigrants from Ethiopia wait with others for a boat to cross into Yemen.

    Immigrants from Ethiopia wait with others for a boat to cross into Yemen. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 May 2019

While the report by the ministry did not clarify the reason for Ethiopian nationals serving time in Saudi prisons, it did mention that immigrants are frequently arrested for lack of necessary work documents.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia, 1,400 Ethiopians who were serving prison sentences in Saudi Arabia had been released by the Arab nation's government Wednesday.

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Along with the release of the prisoners, which comes at the beginning of Ramadan, the Saudi government has announced a 75 percent decrease in jail time for Ethiopians. The announcement followed discussions between authorities from both governments.

About 300 of those who were released are expected to have landed at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport Wednesday evening. The remaining 1,100 are presumed to arrive within the next week.

While the report by the ministry did not clarify the reasons the Ethiopian nationals were serving time in Saudi prisons, it did mention that immigrants are frequently arrested for lack of necessary work documents. 

Many Ethiopians migrate to Saudi Arabia in search of economic opportunities, which has resulted in about half a million migrants working as domestic workers in the country.

Additionally, Ethiopia managed to conduct productive discussions with Kenya, which resulted in the repatriation of some 500 people, who had been serving prison sentences, to their home country Wednesday. The former inmates had been charged with illegal entry, according to a report by the Ethiopia Broadcasting Corporation. 

Kenya was not the intended destination for the formerly incarcerated Ethiopian nationals, who originally planned to travel to Kenya en route to South Africa. 

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