IRC assists Ethiopian migrants deported from Saudi Arabia
December 5, 2013 by The IRC
|A woman collects much-needed water from a tank provided by the IRC in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The IRC is responding to a massive influx of Ethiopian migrants deported from Saudi Arabia who have been staying in transit camps around the city. Photo: Teferra Haile/IRC|
The International Rescue Committee is providing emergency assistance to thousands of Ethiopian migrant workers and their families who have been deported from Saudi Arabia in the past month.
According to the International Organization for Migration, over 90,000 people have returned to Ethiopia since November 13. Some 7,000 more arrive on flights from Saudi Arabia every day – and Ethiopian officials expect a further 80,000 to land in the coming weeks.
Many of those returning were forced to leave on short notice, had to abandon their property in Saudi Arabia, and now find themselves back in Ethiopia with little money, few possessions and almost no prospects for the future.
“People’s lives have been turned upside down,” said IRC country director David Murphy.
The IRC is responding by providing emergency supplies, water, sanitation and health care at the Addis Ababa airport and several transit centers that have been set up around the Ethiopian capital.
|IRC emergency response team member Awet Hailu distributes emergency kits to Ethiopian women who have landed in Addis Ababa after being deported from Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kidist Mekonnen/IRC|
“Health care is a top priority,” Murphy said. “We’re seeing many people arrive who are suffering from pneumonia and other serious health conditions.”
The IRC is providing free medicines at five transit centers. We are also working to head off outbreaks of disease at crowded centers without adequate water supplies or enough toilets. So far we have installed nine water storage tanks and 25 portable toilets with hand-washing stations, along with the supplies needed to clean and maintain them.
The IRC is reaching out to some of the most vulnerable of those returning, including women and children who have arrived on their own. We have distributed 750 blankets, more than 430 diapers, and 6,500 emergency kits for women, which include underwear, sanitary towels and soap. In the coming weeks we plan to provide 11,000 more women’s emergency kits and 1,600 more diapers, as well as toys, games and educational materials for children.
Some 160 Ethiopian children and teenagers have arrived from Saudi Arabia unaccompanied – and this is the first time many of them have set foot in their families’ home country. The IRC is overseeing the hiring and training of social workers to provide them with the psychosocial care and other support they need as they adjust to a new home without a parent or guardian.
On the ground in some of the world’s most troubled places, the IRC helps people at their moment of greatest need — providing shelter, medical care, and safety. And we stay for as long as we are able to help in the rebuilding of lives and livelihoods.
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