The last years the dire situation of the hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian migrant workers in the Middle East has been in the centre of media’s reports and public discussions. But why are so many Ethiopians leaving their country when the Ethiopian regime reports double digit economic growth? The writer finds the answer in the lack of good governance and wide spread poverty and inequalities existing in the country.
Unemployment is one of the most challenging issues in Ethiopia. This is especially true when it comes to youth unemployment. Some figures indicate that about 50% of the urban population between the age of 15 and 30 are unemployed. As a result of this Ethiopia has one of the highest unemployment rates worldwide and it is probably the main reason why one can easily see young people wandering the streets of Addis Ababa. One needs to ask: Why are so many young people unemployed? Why are so many young people engaged in chewing chat and do other drugs? If they had something to do, to keep them busy, they probably wouldn’t be doing chat. Why are so many Ethiopians leaving their country? Even politically unstable Egypt is attracting Ethiopians, but why? Why are we witnessing a mass migration of Ethiopian workers to countries of the Middle East? The answer in my opinion is simple. The cause to all these plights emanate from a thoughtless and inconsiderate administration that cares about no one but itself.
For now I will discuss the mass migration of Ethiopian workers to countries of the Middle East by focusing on why they leave their country and the troubles they face as domestic servants in countries like Saudi Arabia.
As recent as the month of October 2015, we could watch a video clip on several free media outlets displaying long lines of young Ethiopian girls as they arrived in Beirut International airport. The clip showed a snap shot of a single day Ethiopian migrant’s arrival to work as domestic workers, where they are abused and mistreated. These domestic workers have no rights.
This exploitation and involuntary slavery should be an eye opener and bring attention to two root causes of the mass exodus of Ethiopian migrant workers.
1. The first cause of this mass exodus is the clear absence or lack of good governance. Due to its lack/absence, corruption is astonishingly high. This takes a chunk of public money where government officials get richer by each day leaving the majority of Ethiopians impoverished. As a result of the high level of corruption, new jobs are not created as much as they should, which forces Ethiopians, especially young girls to look elsewhere. Hence they are forced to leave their country where they are treated and respected as humans and opt for involuntary slavery where they are treated as a household property. The sad thing is that they know what awaits them in the Arab world, but they still choose that over the possibility of starving to death.
2. The second is the existence of a wide spread poverty in Ethiopia. The level of poverty in Ethiopia is increasing. Despite the regime’s unfounded claims for double digit economic growth the fact on the ground shows poverty is on rise. If the double digit economic growth were close to being the truth, there would actually be at least small changes in people’s lives. But despite the economic growth, the Ethiopian regime still appeals for food aid from international communities. Even as this article is being written, the Ethiopian government has publically admitted that there is hunger in the country. As a result of this, food items such as wheat, maize, food oil and sugar are being imported in the form of aid or purchase. In contrast, the ruling party and its followers benefited from the so called economic growth and political policies while the majority is left in dire conditions. EPRDF rulers and their associates are enjoying lavish life styles as the gap between them and the poor continues to widen. They live in nice houses, eat good food, drive nice cars, send their kids to the best schools in the country and even send them abroad to study if they want.
The above reasons are the two main reasons why young Ethiopians are fleeing their country. We have witnessed that the migrants are barely treated as humans in those foreign countries. The TPLF/EPDRF regime is solely responsible for their plight. Due to political repressions and economic hardships the crisis of poverty and related problems in the country is increasing. Unemployment and lack of good governance has created deep seated resentment against the regime. The lack of good governance has resulted in numerous arrests and killings of members of opposition parties, journalists, bloggers, religious leaders and also other nonconformists who stand up for their beliefs. Those who escaped arrest and killing are either in hiding or overseas in exile.
Regardless of the unrelenting EPRDF’s cruel attacks on those who attempt to stand up for what they believe, regardless of the severe price we may have to pay, we continue fighting this tyranny and keep believing that there is a bright future for Ethiopia and Ethiopians.
Ethiopian Voices shall be heard!