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20 May

ERCS Supports Ethiopian Returnees From Saudi Arabia

As the Ethiopian Government continues to receive its citizens from Saudi Arabia, the Ethiopian Red Cross Society(ERCS) has joined hands in supporting the returnees to get back them to their normal lives. The Society deployed its staff, volunteers and resources to the situation that is now requiring emergency response. ERCS deployed some 60 volunteers who work around the clock each day. Taking the magnitude of the problem into consideration, one can deduce that there should be more volunteers in place. In fact, this is a whole new and complicated humanitarian situation that the country has faced with. The number of returnees reached well over 40,000 in a couple of days and expected to surge to 80,000. However, since ERCS works in collaboration with the Ethiopian Government, IOM and other stakeholders towards supporting the returnees, the gap is significantly narrowed and the operation is well ongoing. Red Cross staff and volunteers are at the fore front to welcome the returnees, to carry their baggage, to provide first aid and taking them to the shelters located at Bole International Airport, IOM, Civil Service University and Kotebe Teachers Education College in Addis Ababa before they are reunited with their family. Preparation is also underway to set up two additional temporary shelters that could accommodate 4,000 returnees. ERCS is will avail two rub halls along with four tents for the new temporary shelters. Most of them are tired of the flight, traumatized and affected by what has happened to them in Saudi Arabia. According to some returnees, the Ethiopians are treated inhumanely and even killed by the Saudi Police. Many of the returnees also complain that they have been forced to leave their belongings behind which they have labored for throughout their stay in the Kingdom. At the temporary shelters, it is not strange to see emotionally destabilized returnees. They have got treatment by the psychiatric nurses on the spot before they are referred to hospitals and other health facilities in Addis Ababa. In a bid to help them ease and recover from this gloomy situation, Red Cross volunteers render counseling services on the spot. ERCS has deployed five ambulances that provided services entirely to the returnees. These ambulances are busy with transporting patients referred to hospitals as well as mothers who gave birth either shortly before deportation or on arrival. Apart from the ambulance services, first aid and other support that have been provided, ERCS has built three rubb halls, four first aid and 15 temporary shelters at those sites. It has provided 5,000 bar soaps, 2 roles of plastic sheeting and 1,000 blankets. More food and non-food items have been provided by the Ethiopian Government which have been is distributed by ERCS. Visiting the temporary shelters, one can also see Red Cross staff and volunteers engaged in reuniting the returnees with their family. Initially this activity of restoring family links (RFL) was hindered due to the inadequacy of telephone services. Understanding this problem, compatriots who felt the urgency of the matter volunteered to buy and donate eight SIM cards and recharge the amount.
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