A Thousand Ethiopians deported from South Africa in 6 months

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Mulugeta Kelil, Special Envoy and Ambassador to the Ethiopian Embassy in South Africa

South Africa has deported over 1,000 people of Ethiopian origins during the past six months because they were undocumented. The Ethiopian Embassy in Pretoria says deportations have intensified in the past few weeks with an average of 120 people from Ethiopia being deported every week, a trend that is expected to continue.

Currently an estimated 120,000 Ethiopians live in South Africa, estimates are that half of them enter the country illegally.

South Africa has also attracted people from Pakistan, Nigeria and Zimbabwe attempting to start small businesses.

Anti-immigrant sentiment in South Africa started in 2015 against a background of near-record unemployment, with foreigners being accused of taking jobs from locals and getting involved in crime.

Mulugeta Kelil, Special Envoy and Ambassador to the Ethiopian Embassy in South Africa told Capital that they are asking Ethiopian migrants to search for jobs in their own country.

“For the last one and half years we have not given work permits to new migrants. There are many Ethiopians selling belts, watches and other items in the streets, we are telling them to go back to their country where they can make better money than they do in South Africa.’’

“We have also offered another option for those who need to stay in South Africa, instead of getting involved in tag shop businesses in remote villages of South Africa, they should put their money together and start small businesses in safer places of the country” Mulugeta said.

The Ambassador added that his government also told Ethiopian investors in South Africa to create more jobs for local people.

“South African law clearly states that any foreign company must hire at least 60 percent of employees from the local labor force. However, this is often not followed and more migrants flood to the country.”

The current round of deportation include people from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and Somalia.

A report by Migrating for Work Research Consortium (MiWORC) titled “A region without borders?”, said that the long history of international migration in the region lacked an official governance system to manage cross-border movement of persons and labour migration.

“Such migration is occurring at an increasing pace with the globalization of the world economy, and South Africa attracts the largest number of cross-border migrants from southern Africa,” reads the report.

According to the report, there was evidence that South Africa’s current responses to the reality of regional migration in southern Africa did not provide the most optimal solutions to the phenomenon.

In 2009, there were around 2.2 million migrants in Southern Africa, making up 3.7pct of the population. The figure could have doubled by now.

Source: Capital Ethiopia