Addis Abeba – In a statement released yesterday, opposition party, Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), decried the “endless suffering” of thousands of Ethiopian nationals in detention facilities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and said it was “appalling.” OFC said that at the heart of the suffering was the fact that “none of the development policies formulated in our country are participatory and effective; and even if they are applied to a certain extent, it is to fulfill the interests of certain individuals and groups and do not meet the needs of our people.”
An investigation by Addis Standard into the conditions of Ethiopians detained in Saudi Arabia’s prisons revealed that a crackdown on illegal migrants has targeted many Ethiopians. A subsequent report revealed that testimonies offered via multiple calls from detainees inside the kingdom’s detention facilities continued.
According to the detainees, nursing mothers, infants, and pregnant women continued suffering in these facilities without sufficient food, medicine, and a proper place to sleep. The detainees kept urging the Ethiopian government to intervene and repeatedly complained about Ethiopian Embassy officials in KSA and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) officials of abandoning their responsibilities and ignoring their pleas to rescue them.
“While we posses large tracts of land and abundant natural resources, citizens are at risk of persecution for seeking the betterment of themselves and their families,”OFC
In its statement, the OFC said that although Ethiopia is praised for registering a robust economic growth, there has been no attempt to address poor people’s basic need; instead, what is evident is “the fact that the wealth of the few is pilling up.” “While we posses large tracts of land and abundant natural resources, citizens are at risk of persecution for seeking the betterment of themselves and their families,” OFC said and lamented that because “our country’s political leadership is distorted no small number of people are fleeing the country.” In the last 30 years alone, citizens have been forced to flee to foreign lands, especially to Arab countries, where they have been exposed to desserts, extortion, and wild beasts.
“The plight of young people killed on the shores of Libya and the suffering as a result of long-term detention of individuals in Saudi Arabia, most recently, the status of thousands detained in several detention facilities is particularly appalling,” OFC said. Many people are calling the attention of the government and “it is not uncommon for people to say that the government should save the lives of these people. OFC supports this idea,” the party said.
Nebiyu Sirak, a journalist and a community advocate who lived and was active in Saudi Arabia recently told Addis Standard that more than half a million Ethiopians are estimated to be living in Saudi Arabia both legally and illegally of which more than 100,000 of them are now suffering in the kingdom’s prisons. “Outside the prison, an estimated 200,000 Ethiopian migrants are in danger,” Nebiyu said and spoke about the year-long government initiative that resulted in the return of more than 42,000 undocumented migrants. But he argued that none of these initiatives provided a lasting solution. “We know of different initiatives including sending a delegation to Saudi from MoFA, but it remains a fact that the government failed at stopping the harassment and sufferings of its citizens. The large-scale crackdown continued and remaining citizens remain under the threat of harassment and abuse.” AS