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The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MoLSA) announced that it will not lift the ban on domestic worker travel unless the Saudi Arabian government signs the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ethiopian government.
In October 2013, the government banned domestic workers from traveling abroad due to the rampant torturing, sexual harassment and other civil rights violations endured by many Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries.
After the ban was placed, the number of illegal brokers and undocumented migrants increased, causing a surge in the loss of life en route and at sea.
MoLSA which has succeeded in ratifying a revised Overseas Employment Proclamation demanded receiving countries hire Ethiopian domestic workers if bilateral agreements are made between governing bodies.
So far Qatar, Kuwait, and Jordan have signed the MoU with Ethiopia’s Foreign Minster but Saudi Arabia which attracts 70 percent of Ethiopia’s domestic workers still has not signed the agreement.
According to Dammene Darrota, State Ministry of MoLSA Saudi’s signing is mandatory for the travel ban to be lifted ‘’The agreement we have made so far with other Arab countries is not enough to lift the ban, because a majority of our domestic workers are interested in traveling to Saudi Arabia which means it is vital that Saudi Arabia agrees to the terms in order for us to lift the travel ban. We are not sitting around doing nothing, rather we are continuously talking with the Saudi government and I hope the agreement will occur soon.
He added that the ministry is assigning experts in regions who will train domestic workers in house keeping, cleaning and the discipline and work habits acceptable for working abroad.
According to proclamation 923/2016 direct domestic worker employment only for staff where the employers are an Ethiopian mission or an international organization and where the job seekers acquire a job opportunity by their own accord in job positions other than house maid service.
And receiving countries should protect the life and the disability insurance coverage rights of domestic workers.
The proclamation requires domestic workers to have certificates proving that they have at least three months of training in their respective fields. Agencies that send workers abroad should have one million birr capital for to get the license.
Currently the International Labor Organization and the European Union are working with the Ethiopian government to reduce illegal migration and to protect the rights of domestic workers.