The Ethiopia Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) announced on Thursday it has repatriated 44,500 nationals stranded in Saudi Arabia during a six months period.

Speaking to local and foreign media outlets, Meles Alem, Spokesperson at MoFA, said the 44,500 Ethiopians who were stranded in Saudi Arabia were repatriated with the joint efforts of Ethiopian and Saudi authorities.

“Ethiopia beefed its diplomatic personnel at its consulates in Saudi Arabia to help for the mass repatriation of nationals who were stranded in Saudi Arabia without proper travel documents,” said Alem.

It is estimated every year thousands of Ethiopians travel across the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia looking for better economic opportunities. These Ethiopians were often employed in the informal sector without having valid residency permits.

In a bid to curb illegal migration, Ethiopia signed an agreement in May 2017 with Saudi Arabia for an overseas employment agreement to help future legal Ethiopian migrants. (Xinhua)