Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, November 27, 2013 – On November 26, the US Ambassador to Ethiopia Patricia Haslach, accompanied by representatives of the Government of Ethiopia, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and the International Rescue Committee, visited the Bole International Airport and the IOM transit center in Gerji to witness firsthand the repatriation operation for Ethiopian migrants returning from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
At the airport, Ambassador Haslach spoke with IOM field staff and the Government of Ethiopia about the challenges of meeting the needs of thousands of returnees. She also spoke with a few of the returned migrants to better understand the deportation process and the difficulties these migrants are facing. The Ambassador toured the IOM transit facility in Gerji, and noted the orderly nature of the operation and the tremendous efforts by the Ethiopian government and IOM to repatriate people in dignity.
In collaboration with international partners, the Ethiopian government is doing an incredible job of providing needy returnees with meals, medical treatment, a cash grant, banking services, and temporary shelter. The immediate focus is on safely welcoming the thousands of Ethiopians returning from Saudi Arabia every day. The challenge will continue, however, as these people return to their communities to seek employment and rebuild their lives.
On November 22, the USG provided US$60,000 through the International Rescue Committee to provide non-food items, including 750 blankets, seven 10,000 liter water storage tanks, mobile toilets for the airport and transit sites as well as dignity kits for women. Separately, the USG also provided IOM US $1.7 million in July 2013 to assist Ethiopian migrants who are voluntarily returning to Ethiopia from Yemen.