Seven Days Update, Vol. 20 No. 38

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Saudi security forces on Nov. 9 clashed with thousands of migrant workers protesting a new labor law. Two people were killed and nearly 70 others injured after police opened fire to disperse protesters in the capital Riyadh. More than 500 protesters were also detained.The Ethiopian man was killed during another crackdown, prompting the Ethiopian government to announce efforts to bring home its citizens (Diretube, Nov. 12).

The government has begun repatriating its citizens from Saudi Arabia and the first batch of returnees, numbering 23, arrived at Bole International Airport on Wednesday. Many of the returnees had no shoes or bags. “It will be the responsibility of all of us to reintegrate the returnees into the society,” Dina told. Dina said the repatriation will continue and thousands are registering at the Ethiopian embassy in Riyadh to obtain travel documents WIC, Nov.13). 

About 23,000 Ethiopians have surrendered to Saudi authorities since a clampdown on illegal migrant workers began in the oil-rich kingdom last week, officials have said. The clampdown has led to clashes in the capital, Riyadh, with at least five people killed. Saudi authorities say they are trying to reduce the 12% unemployment rate among native Saudis. An estimated nine million migrant workers are in Saudi Arabia. They are said to make up more than half the workforce, filling manual, clerical and service jobs (BBC, Nov. 14).

Jeddah police has arrested 20 Ethiopians for instigating and leading a mob of a large number of expatriates of different nationalities at Jeddah’s King Fahd Road in Al-Sharafiya district. Police said the subjects provoked illegal expatriates to lay a siege to the Deportation Center (Arab News, Nov. 14).

Clashes between Saudi police and foreign nationals in Riyadh left a Sudanese man dead and 17 people injured during a crackdown on undocumented workers across the kingdom. Fighting erupted between residents and expatriates in the capital’s Manfouha district, also the scene of violence last week (Bloomberg, Nov. 14)

A total of 4,000 illegal Ethiopians are ready for deportation. This comes in the wake of Saudi Arabia deporting 82 workers on Wednesday and 22 on Thursday. Muhammed Hassan Kabiera, Ethiopia's ambassador, said the embassy was informed by Saudi officials that some 23,000 Ethiopians had so far handed themselves in. The authorities are now processing their paperwork. Under an agreement between the Ethiopian Embassy and the security agencies, the surrendered workers are being kept at various holding centers until they get exit visas. The embassy has opened a new center in Murabba to register Ethiopian citizens, and provide exit permits to those who failed to legalize their status during the grace period (Arab News, Nov. 15).

Police in Ethiopia has arrested dozens of people outside the Saudi embassy in the capital Addis Ababa in a crackdown on demonstrators protesting against targeted attacks on Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia. Police units blocked roads on Friday to prevent the protest at the embassy from growing and forced some journalists to delete photos (Aljazeera, Nov. 15).

Ethiopia's inflation rate jumped to 8.5% in October from 6.9% a month earlier, driven primarily by higher food prices, according data from Ethiopia's Central Statistical Agency. Food prices rose 7.8% over the 12-month period compared with 4.3% year-on-year in September, the Central Statistics Agency said. The non-food inflation rate fell to 9.2% in October after a 10% rise in September. The International Monetary Fund projected Ethiopia's inflation rate will remain in single digits over the next two fiscal years (Reuters, Nov. 14).

The Saudi Star project of Sheik Mohamed Al-Amoudi is facing serious financial crisis and has laid off over 2,000 workers. The company, engaged in agricultural work in Gambella region, has been unable to continue its work due to serious financial constraints. The company began work five years ago over a area of 10,000 ha of agricultural land. The project lies close to the Al-Wero Dam constructed during the Derg rule. The dam is capable of providing water for the company (Reporter, Nov. 10).

Ethiopia is among the top 10 most attractive solar markets in Africa, a new market research report has revealed. The report, Solar Power Opportunities - Africa, provides a comparative framework for analyzing the potential and relative attractiveness of national-level solar markets in Africa and for assessing macro conditions, access to market, national energy policy, growth potential of renewable energy and infrastructure considerations. The top three markets based on installed solar capacity are South Africa, Senegal and Eritrea (WIC, Nov 13).

After South Africa and Nigeria, Ethiopia is becominga hub of Africa’s aspirations in space with the East African nation’s finalizing the installation of two huge deep-space observatory telescopes to promote space research in the region, a prelude to its developing a space mission by launching its own satellites. “The two telescopes with their telecommunications technology allowing remote internet-controlled operations mark the first steps of Ethiopia’s future space ambitions,” says Solomon Belay, director of Entoto Space and Astronomical Observatory Center. The Ethiopian Space Science Society (ESSS), which has been installing the two telescopes, each of one meter diameter, at an elevated point over 20 km from the capital Addis Ababa, is at the forefront of this programmes.