Saudi Arabia Deports 100,000 Ethiopian Workers in Brutal Round-up

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By Gianluca Mezzofiore | December 5, 2013 11:52 PM EST

Ethiopia has brought home more than 100,000 nationals from Saudi Arabia after the Gulf kingdom launched a violent clampdown on illegal immigrant workers.

Tedros Adhanom, Ethiopia's foreign minister said that another 50,000 citizens were still expected to return.

"Arrivals from Saudi reached 100,620," Adhanom said. "All citizens detained in Riyadh deportation camps are back."

Ethiopia's move followed Saudi Arabia's bloody crackdown on Ethiopian migrants, who were protesting against their expulsion from the oil-rich country.

Three Ethiopians were killed in clashes with Saudi police in the capital of Riyadh and 23,000 Ethiopians surrendered to Saudi authorities after the violence.

The Saudi government created a taskforce of 1,200 labour ministry officials to raid shops, construction sites, restaurants and businesses in the hunt for foreign workers who did not have valid permits. More than 16,000 people were rounded up.

The government issued an amnesty in April 2013 to give illegal migrants seven months to gain legal status.

Ethiopia's foreign minister said the repatriation efforts had been successful.

"The number is increasing over time," spokesman Dina Mufti said.

Dubbed the "African lion", Ethiopia is one of Africa's fastest growing economies with a GDP annual growth change of 8.5% ($43bn) and 93% GDP growth in six years.

It is also the African country with the fastest creation of millionaires. The number of dollar millionaires rose from 1,300 in 2007 to 2,700 by September 2013, according to a report by New World Wealth.

However, unemployment rates are still high. Around 27% of women and 13% of men are without a job in the country, according to the International Labour Organisation. Many face poor working conditions, mental and physical abuse, low pay and discrimination.

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