Ethiopia Urges Probe After 3 Die in Saudi Labor Crackdown

November 12, 2013

Bloomberg – Ethiopia demanded Saudi Arabia probe the deaths of its citizens as the kingdom prepared to expel tens of thousands of foreigners in a crackdown on undocumented workers.

Three Ethiopian nationals were killed in recent clashes with Saudi police, Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti told reporters today in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, without giving details. Ethiopia’s government has spoken to Saudi Arabian officials and condemned the “deplorable” killing of “innocent citizens,” Dina said.

Saudi authorities on Nov. 4 started implementing measures against violators of the kingdom’s labor laws. About 17,000 Ethiopians have surrendered themselves in the capital, Riyadh, since Nov. 10 after clashes with police in the Manfouha neighborhood left two people dead, al-Riyadh newspaper reported today, citing Nasser al-Qahtani, spokesman for the city’s police.

Ethiopia’s government has sent extra diplomatic staff to register Ethiopians for their return home, according to Dina. “We’re looking for orderly repatriation with the rights of all citizens, including Ethiopians, respected,” he said.

Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s biggest economy, is taking action against illegal workers as it pushes to create more jobs for its citizens and stave off unrest.

More than 9 million foreign workers have entered Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil exporter invests its energy wealth to build roads, airports and new industrial cities.