Thousands of irregular and unregistered migrants have lost their livelihoods in Lebanon due to the Covid-19 and the economic crisis. Many have begun to return to Ethiopia.
Staff from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other humanitarian agencies facilitate the arrival of returnees, direct them to the convenience of hand washing, and urge physical distance to reduce the risk of contracting the disease.
Immigrants have been tested for symptoms and given personal protective equipment (PPE) by the Ethiopian Institute of Public Health. Most of the young women who used to work in the Middle East are now in government-led quarantine centers.
The IOM is providing travel allowances for migrants to return to their towns and villages after leaving the quarantine zone.
“The quarantine center is the most critical part of the journey for returning migrants amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” stated Milun Jovanovic, the Head of Operations at IOM Ethiopia. “We are doing our best to provide all the necessary items at quarantine centers together with the government and streamlining efforts by other UN agencies and non-governmental organizations.”
IOM UNICEF, UNHCR, Norwegian Refugee Council, Concern Worldwide, Action Aid, Samaritan Purse and TT Shoe Factory are distributing PPE, bedding, sanitation products and tents. However, more migrants are expected to return to the country in the coming days and weeks, at a time when the rate of COVID-19 infection is still rising in Ethiopia.
An estimated 460,000 Ethiopians migrated to the Gulf between 2008 to 2013. Thousands of other people migrated through Yemen through irregular channels.