A total of 4,000 illegal Ethiopians are ready for deportation, sources told Arab News on Friday.
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.
Ethiopian workers have been involved in two clashes with the police and residents in Riyadh's Manfouha area over the past week, resulting in the death of three people and injury to several others.
There was also a brief standoff with residents and the police in Jeddah on Thursday, when several Ethiopians gathered illegally at the deportation center demanding their repatriation. The Ethiopian Embassy has condemned the violence but also urged the authorities to speed up the processing of exit visas and residence permits of workers.
Over the last two days, about 2,000 Ethiopians who handed themselves in were moved to the old Princess Noura University building where they were given blankets, food, water and medical services.
A new holding center has also been opened up close to King Khaled International Airport where exit visas are issued, said Col. Fawaz bin Jamil Al- Maiman, deputy spokesman at the Riyadh police. He said it was easier to deport the workers from the center.
Zenebe K. Korcho, consul general of Ethiopia, told Arab News that the diplomatic mission had also asked the Saudi authorities to arrest male and female members of families because it would be difficult for the females to live alone.
Korcho appealed to the media not to portray the entire community as violent criminals.
“Ethiopians have been living in the Kingdom for more than 50 years as law-abiding citizens without any problem until recently.” He said it was not possible for them to have become criminals in a few weeks.
“The Ethiopian government has respect for Saudi law and the country's law enforcement agencies.”