Roundtable Discussion held on Human Rights issues for Ethiopian migrant workers in the Middle East. By: Berhane Tadese

December 10th, 2014 Print Print Email Email

The Round Table Discussion on Ethiopians migrant human rights issues was held on December 6, 2014, of the State office building in New York City. The discussion was organized by the Humanitarian Organization for Ethiopians in Need of NY & NJ and the Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association of New York (ECMAA). The Humanitarian Organization for Ethiopian in Need was has been doing an advocacy for the migrant workers’ rights of Ethiopians in Middle East countries. On the other hand, ECMAA is serving Ethiopian residents living in metro NY, NJ, and CT who need help in the area of Education/Information, Emergency, out reaches services, networking / partnering etc.

The discussion was moderated by Ms. Makda Amare the Chairperson of Humanitarian Organization for Ethiopians in Need of NY & NJ. She highlighted the importance of the discussion and set the scene for rest of the event, at which a diverse range of participants were introduced to audience. The Presenters were: Selamawit Tesfaye from Center for Women’s Global Leadership, Daniel Bekele from Africa Human Rights Watch, Dr. Girma Abebe a New York resident, and other migrant workers’ rights advocates’ organization such as ISAN, International Organization for Migration representatives also joined by Skype.

In general all the Presenters recounted the unfortunate steady stream of stories of the Ethiopia migrant workers in the Middle East countries from the start to present time. They provided their analysis and explanation as to the root cause of the migration and the human rights abuse and violence act that was perpetrated against them. The Presenters shared some of the progress made so far and the task ahead. They also discussed the effort made by International Labor Organization (ILO) and other human right organization to protect migrant rights. Most of the labor laws of the migrant workers receiving Gulf States do not apply to migrant workers. The ILO and other human right advocacy organizations are putting pressure on these states to amend their labor laws so as to guarantee equal rights and suitable working condition to migrant workers as their own nationals.

The discussion included discussants experience as to why the problem of the abuse of the migrant workers in the Middle East is not resolved so far. In regard to Ethiopia Migrant workers case, the Presenters stated that the government has announced a temporary ban of travel abroad for migrant workers until the negotiation and signing of memorandum of understanding with the workers receiving country is completed. The discussants indicated that there is negotiation between the Ethiopian Government and some of Gulf States to have a Memorandum of Understanding that will address some of these problems. Some of the attendees commented that the lack of job and economic opportunities, political repression and abuses of human rights by Ethiopian governments, as the causes of the migration and unless, these issues are address properly the problem will continue. There were no disagreement with the Presenters analysis and thoughts. The question becomes what is the role of the Ethiopia diaspora? Of course, the answer is never a smooth or simple.

The aim of the foregoing remark is based on what I observed from the discussion as to what we can do to advocate the plights of Ethiopian migrant worker by exposing the abuse to the international organization of human right. We witnessed last year 2013 the Ethiopia migrant workers human rights were openly violated in the Middle East. They were ill-treated, beaten, gang raped, in some case their property confiscated. These inhumane acts had touched everyone. As a group or as individual let’s send a firm and resolute message that we cannot sit down and watch the human right violation of Ethiopian migrant workers continue unchallenged. We should continue to issue formal statements condemning the violation to appropriate officials and organization. We should also continue to rally and petition the UN and other agencies that conduct independent investigation on these crimes. We should demand that the Ethiopian government provide training for migrant workers and assign a labor attaché in the embassies that provide assistance to the migrant workers when they face abuse by their employers.

In conclusion, the discussion improved our understanding of the problems and hopefully helps us in strengthening to continue the advocacy, and prepare us to deal with these circumstances in organized and effective way. Let’s be a voice for the voiceless brothers and sisters working as a migrant workers in the Middle East.

  1. Abe
    | #1

    You talking ill-treatment? why would people live and prefer to die instead of confronting their owning government and making sure they get their fair share of the country? I have never seen people except Ethiopians who are afraid to die for their rights yet prefer to die in the red sea. It does not make sense to campaign for such type of people.

  2. USA-backed TPLF
    | #2

    When journalists report about human rights violations in Ethiopia by TPLF they should have a practice of always(!) mentioning the western support for the TPLF regime that is facilitating the murder, oppression, impoverishment, arrest, torture and migration of Ethiopians.
    So far the Ethiopian commentators and also media organizations like ESAT and G7 keep the West, above all USA and UK, out of the picture as violators or facilitators of human rights abuses in Ethiopia. That behaviour of Ethiopians is totally unacceptable. USA,UK and the West should be made visible as violators and facilitators of human rights abuses in Ethiopia. We could say that if TPLF is a killer, the USA, UK and company hired it.

  3. Anonymous
    | #3

    True…… Ethiopians love to go abroad cantry like mid east and die than fighting for their right. I dont see TPLF need to go
    They are doing fantastic job. I dont know why the so called diaspora never give feedback for the good thing happend in ethiopia.

  4. aha!
    | #4

    The “Round table discussion held on “Human Rights Issues for Ethiopian Migrant workers in the Middle East”, where “all the presenters told stories about the migrant workers in the Middle Eastern countries”, need to be outlined in terms of objectives and strategies to achieve those objectives to resolve the human rights violations in connection of human trafficking of migrant workers in the Middle Eastern countries.

    Unlike the human trafficking between the borders of Mexico and USA, where human trafficking has no participations by either governments, the human trafficking in Ethiopia involves the governments of the Middle Eastern countries and the TPLF/eprdf regime and the handlers of TPLF and TPLF affiliated enterprises in the form business enterprises for corruption and exploitation, where both governments on both sides take the blame for human rights violation of migrant workers in the Middle East.

    So, what I would suggest the consortium need to come in addition to statements of the problem as a background justification is come up with clear cut objectives and strategies to achieve those objectives to alleviate the human rights violations by governments on both sides as well as corruption and exploitations by the human traffickers by seeking Grants for funding the Project through the United Nations and Private donors.

    While the Derg regime was implicated with human rights violations in more or less the same way as the TPLF/eprdf regime, the human trafficking of Migrant Workers to the Middle Eastern countries with government involvement adds another dimension of human rights violations to the TPLF/eprdf regime, by not being able to create jobs at home and putting individual rights ahead of ethnic and secessionist rights as well as not having independent branches of the government for accountability in the constitution.

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