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By Godfrey Olukya 5-5-2013

Thousands of Ethiopians immigrants are stranded in neighboring Djibouti after failing to illegally travel to Saudi Arabia for ‘green pasture’.

According to authorities in Djibouti, over time Ethiopian migrants have been using the neighboring country as a base to travel to Saudi Arabia through Yemen but of recent traveling there has become impossible due to recently imposed tougher migration laws.

According to International organization of migration (IOM) over 7000 migrants have been registered at one of their centers in Djibouti yet there could be many others who are not registered.

‘ 7,130 Ethiopian migrants have been registered at Obock Migrant Response Centre in Djibouti. ‘said Abou Sahle an immigrations official in Djibouti. ‘Most of them have failed to continue their journey to Saudi Arabia and are now asking for transport to return to Ethiopia. he added.

Since January this year, over 300 Ethiopian migrants who failed to continue to their intended destinations have been helped by IOM and Djibouti government to return to their homes.

Changes in Saudi Arabia labor laws restricting the employment of foreign workers, as well as the fencing off of the 1,800 km Saudi-Yemeni border by the Saudi authorities, have made their plans nearly impossible.

The changes have also reportedly affected the smugglers and traffickers who over time have been providing the boats in which the Ethiopian migrants have been crossing the Gulf of Aden.

Many migrants after failing to cross to Saudi Arabia, and having spent most of their resources on paying for the journey, live as beggars on streets in Djibouti.

It is estimate that last year, 108,000 migrants arrived in Yemen from the Horn of Africa, of whom some 84,000 transited through Djibouti.

IOM is appealing for funds from donors so that it continues supporting the Ethiopian migrants suffering in Djibouti.It said that it needs over 6 million US dollars to effectively assist them.

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