Addis Ababa – In a statement released yesterday, the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) party denounced the “endless suffering” of thousands of Ethiopian nationals in detention centers across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and said it was ” appalling”. The 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 meet the interests of certain individuals and groups and do not meet the needs of our people.
A survey of Addis Standard on the conditions of Ethiopians held in Saudi prisons revealed that a crackdown on illegal migrants was targeting many Ethiopians. A subsequent report revealed that testimonies offered through several appeals from detainees inside the kingdom’s detention centers were continuing.
According to inmates, nursing mothers, infants, and pregnant women continued to suffer in these facilities without adequate food, medicine, and a decent place to sleep. The detainees repeatedly urged the Ethiopian government to intervene and repeatedly complained that Ethiopian Embassy officials in Saudi Arabia and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) officials had abdicated their responsibilities and ignored their appeals to help them.
“While we possess vast tracts of land and abundant natural resources, citizens are at risk of persecution for seeking their welfare and that of their families,”
In its statement, the OFC said that although Ethiopia is praised for recording robust economic growth, no attempt has been made to meet the basic needs of the poor; instead, what is evident is “the fact that the wealth of the few accumulates”. “While we possess vast tracts of land and abundant natural resources, citizens are at risk of persecution for seeking the betterment of themselves and their families,” the OFC said and lamented that , because “the political leadership of our country is distorted, a small number of people are fleeing the country.” In the past 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 resulting from the long-term detention of individuals in Saudi Arabia, more recently the status of thousands of detainees in several detention centers is particularly appalling,” said OFC. Many people come to the government’s attention, and “it’s not uncommon for people to say that the government should save these people’s lives. The OFC supports this idea,” the party said.
Nebiyu Sirak, a journalist and community advocate who lived and was active in Saudi Arabia, recently said Addis Standard that more than half a million Ethiopians live in Saudi Arabia legally and illegally, of whom more than 100,000 are currently suffering in the kingdom’s prisons. “Apart from prison, around 200,000 Ethiopian migrants are at risk,” Nebiyu said and spoke of the year-long government initiative that has 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 the sending of a MoFA delegation to Saudi Arabia, but it remains a fact that the government has failed to end the harassment and suffering of its citizens. The large-scale crackdown has continued and remaining citizens remain under threat of harassment and abuse. LIKE