Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have deported thousands of Ethiopian migrants who they say were undocumented.
The Arab nations said these Africans who are working without permits are being deported amid efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus pandemic.
The Ethiopians being deported are reported to be vulnerable to spreading the coronavirus with some showing symptoms and many without, but were not tested.
Ethiopian officials say more than 2,870 Ethiopian migrants have been deported just within the last month.
They are expecting more deportations of up to 3,000 this month. Many of those returning are maids and domestic servants with low paid jobs.
Ethiopia’s health minister, Lia Tadesse who has confirmed the mass deportation, said more than half of the confirmed cases of the covid-19 virus were those who recent traveled to Dubai.
“Ethiopian workers in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Djibouti are being forced to flee to their country, a situation that is becoming a challenge to contain the virus,” said Tadesse.
Ethiopia has confirmed at least 74 cases of the virus so far with three deaths.
#COVID19 – UPDATE IN AFRICA BY REGION (14 APRIL 2020, 9 AM EAT)
52 @_AfricanUnion Member States reporting 15,249 COVID-19 cases, 816 deaths & 2,895 recoveries with a Cumulative CFR of 5.34%.
Visit the @AfricaCDC dashboard>>https://t.co/teDFU1XFLZ#FactsNotFear #AfricaResponds pic.twitter.com/l4pfIg36pg
— Africa CDC (@AfricaCDC) April 14, 2020
The UN has warned that embarking on large-scale movement of migrants in any place in the world could worsen the current pandemic.
Catherine Sozi, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Ethiopia said “Large-scale migratory movements which are not planned make the transmission of the virus much more likely to continue. We are therefore calling for the temporary suspension of large-scale deportations.”