In a distressing revelation, The Globe and Mail exposes a deeply troubling reality: the Ethiopian government’s Facebook campaign, ostensibly aimed at providing employment opportunities for migrant workers in Saudi Arabia, is enabling a cycle of human trafficking, forced labor, and exploitation. The program, which promised safe and steady jobs, has left countless Ethiopian women vulnerable to abuse and perilous working conditions in the oil-rich kingdom.
“There are no guarantees that migrant workers, particularly in countries with insufficient legal protections and labour laws, would receive payment.” – says Miriam Karmali, our former advocacy manager at Freedom United.
The deceptive promise of opportunity
Under the guise of economic recovery and foreign currency relief, the Ethiopian government initiated a program to export 500,000 Ethiopian women for domestic work in Saudi Arabia. Despite warnings from human rights researchers regarding the perilous conditions faced by migrant workers in the Gulf countries, the government sees this program as a means to alleviate the financial strain caused by years of civil conflict.
To attract potential recruits, the government turned to Facebook. More than 200 Ethiopian state institutions, including ministries and district administrations, have utilized their official pages to promote the Saudi recruitment drive, enticing women with the promise of a brighter future. However, the reality awaiting these workers in Saudi Arabia is far from the rosy picture painted on social media.
“It’s all a lie. They don’t care about what happens after they get you here. If you want to come, you need to understand the risks and put your faith in God, not them.” – says Fikirte, a mother who was recruited from northern Ethiopia.