For more than a decade Ethiopia showed a double-digit growth. However, the economic progress achieved in the last decade, has not been accompanied by considerable reduction in poverty and job creation, particularly for young people.
The number of unemployed and underemployed educated youth has increased over the past years. In addition, employed youth do not have access to decent work; they have no or limited social protection, lack of freedom of association, poor working conditions, they are mostly under employed and found in precarious self-employment and unprotected informal jobs.
Furthermore, the rural population faces persistent food insecurity due to natural hazards and seasonal climate changes such as El Nino and La Nino from droughts. Absence of decent work conditions coupled with recurrent drought force a great deal of Ethiopian youth to migrate oversees’ looking for better job opportunities.
The exact number of Ethiopians migrants are unknown due to irregular migration and absence of centralized registration system. However, Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates that more than two million Ethiopians live in the Diaspora.
On the same note, data from Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs indicate that 460,000 Ethiopians migrants migrated regularly to the Gulf States mainly Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Dubai from September 2008 to August 2013.
However, it is estimated that double the number of regular migrants migrate irregularly. Household survey result depicts 39 percent migrate with no legal documents, which illustrated a relatively high level of irregular migration (Kuschinder and Siegel, 2011). The irregular migrants face abusive and exploitative situations during their journey and at destination countries by smugglers, brokers and employers.
The Government of Ethiopia (GoE) has banned low-skilled migration to the Middle East and Sudan since 2013 and is taking multiple initiatives towards improving labour migration governance in the country.
Accordingly, the GoE has revised Overseas Employment Proclamation, started negotiation of Bilateral Agreements (BLAs) with major destination countries and is building the capacity of key government institutions to effectively and efficiently govern the regular labour migration process. Despite the ban, the numbers of Ethiopian migrants crossing borders in search of employment continue to rise.
Recognizing the numerous decent work deficits faced by Ethiopian migrants in the Middle East and ambit of improving the labour migration governance and strengthening the protection of migrant workers’ rights by making regular labour migration more accessible and desirable, the ILO has developed a project entitled ‘improved labour migration governance to protect migrant workers and combat irregular migration in Ethiopia’ funded by United Kingdom’s Department for International Development.
The project aims at supporting the efforts of the Government and Civil Societies to address and reduce irregular migration by improving labour migration governance and making regular labour migration more accessible and desirable to potential migrants in Ethiopia.