Unemployed women gather at a curb in the neighborhood of American Gibi, on the edge of the large outdoor market in Addis Ababa known as Merkato. Many women come to this area seeking work, often from illegal brokers. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
Yesterday brought news that Ethiopia is banning its citizens from applying for domestic or blue-collar jobs in the United Arab Emirates until an agreement can be reached to protect the workers’ rights.
Writer Peter Lemieux explored that problem in the May issue of ONE:
In 2008, Human Rights Watch published an article on the subject, in which it found migrant workers in Lebanon — most of them of Ethiopian nationality — to be dying from unnatural causes at a rate of one per week. Soon after, the Ethiopian government enacted a ban on economic migration to Lebanon.
We knew that illegal trafficking of Ethiopian women to the Middle East had been going on for more than ten years. And with technological advancement in media, we saw a lot of stories of what Ethiopians were going through in the Middle East, explains Yilikal Shiferaw Mesellu, head of R.R.A.D. They were healthy when they left here. But many came back traumatized, mentally ill, sexually abused and having been denied pay. Some were thrown from the third or fourth floor. Some were victims of disease, or hospitalized and deported. We knew there was a big gap both in our knowledge of the situation and the follow-up care needed for these returnees.
Read more about The High Stakes of Leaving in ONE magazine.