ADDIS ABABA (Xinhua)―A 90-day amnesty issued by Saudi Arabia for illegal migrants to voluntarily leave the Middle Eastern nation that was to expire on June 28 has been extended by a month, according to Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).

The statement was made on Thursday by Meles Alem spokesperson for MoFA who said the extension will give relief for thousands of stranded undocumented Ethiopians to return back home.

The MoFA spokesperson says so far an estimated 110,000 undocumented Ethiopians have taken Ethiopian travel documents with around 45,000 of them returning back to Ethiopia up to now.

Both figures are still a minority of the estimated 400,000 undocumented Ethiopians living in Middle East’s largest economy in jobs ranging from maids to construction sites.

With hundreds of thousands of undocumented Ethiopians believed to be still in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia has also increased flight interval to Saudi cities of Riyadh and Jeddah.

Ethiopia has also asked the Saudi Arabian government to extend further the amnesty deadline so as to bring the remaining Ethiopians back home.

With an eye to curb illegal migration, the Ethiopian government last month signed an agreement with the Saudi Arabia government for an overseas employment agreement to help future legal Ethiopian migrants.

It has also put advertorials in Ethiopian electronic media urging relatives of Ethiopians illegally residing in Saudi Arabia to persuade them to return ahead of the expiry of the amnesty deadline.

With a growing population currently at around 30 million and a squeeze in international oil price, Saudi Arabia is on a drive to indigenize its work force currently dominated by millions of illegal and legal migrants.

Source: Xinhua and Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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