MIGRATION PHENOMENON, REGULAR AND IRREGULAR, TO THE MIDDLE-EAST
Ethiopia is a country of origin, destination and transit of mixed and complex migration flows involving regular and irregular migrants. The eastern route to the Gulf countries via Djibouti and Somalia is the most significant. It has been estimated that more than one and a half million Ethiopians live abroad as migrants and refugees and more than two hundred thousand women are employed as domestic workers in the Middle East (RMMS, 2014; Habtamu, et al., 2017; DIIS, 2020). Sixty per cent of the entire migration phenomenon is characterised by women, and the rate increases to 68 with reference to the flow to the Middle East alone (Kuschminder and Siegel, 2014). As documented by numerous studies, most Ethiopians migrated through irregular channels, facing dangerous journeys, exposing themselves to kidnapping, robbery, physical and sexual assault and even death. An even more recent study reveals that over 70 per cent of Ethiopian returnees who have passed through Yemen have witnessed or experienced extreme forms of physical and psychological abuse. Ethiopians who migrate to the Middle East legally for employment are estimated to account for no more than 40% of the total while the remaining migrants (60%, according to RMMS sources, 2018) are trafficked or smuggled in by traffickers for the purpose of subjecting them to forced labour and sex trafficking.
The MAPS project covers three neighbouring urban areas consisting of the cities of Chiro (Oromia), Dire Dawa and Harar. The three cities are located along one of the country's main arteries, the one leading to Djibouti, and are therefore departure points for migrations to (but not limited to) the Gulf countries, the so-called Eastern route.