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IOM facing funds gap in support for Ethiopian returnees from Saudi

December 18, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Ethiopia has renewed its appeal to the international community for help in supporting over 100,000 Ethiopian migrants expelled from Saudi Arabia.

Although it has received $ 2.5 million in donations since it made first made the appeal earlier this month, the IOM says it is facing a financial gap of $ 11.2 million to assist the unexpectedly large influx of Ethiopian returnees.

Officials at the ministry of foreign affairs on Wednesday told Sudan Tribune that the number of Ethiopian returnees has reached about 140,000 – nearly a fivefold increase on initial estimates.

IOM is in need of further funds so as to continue provisions of immediate post-arrival humanitarian assistance, including medical and psychological support at airports and sheltering centres.
Arrivals are also provided with food, water, accommodation and a transportation allowance.

“This emergency operation is greatly challenged by the recurrent uncertainties of the number of returning migrants”, IOM representative in Ethiopia Sharon Dimanche said.

“Apart from transportation from the airport to the transit centres, the migrants need medical attention, psychological support, feeding and WASH, onward transport and reintegration back into their communities”, she added.

The IOM official said the funding gap, as well as increased uncertainties over the total number of migrants yet to arrive, to arranging an appropriate assistance mechanism has become a significant challenge.

The Ethiopian Red Cross society (ERCS) has similarly appealed to the Ethiopian diaspora to raise help raise funds to assist the repatriation operation.

The labour crackdown in Saudi Arabia has led to the expulsion of more than one million foreign workers, the majority from African and Asian countries.

The forced deportation against undocumented workers aims to create job opportunities for Saudi citizens as part of the efforts to cut high the unemployment rate among its nationals.

(ST)