Women workers repatriated to Ethiopia for COVID-19 should not be left alone: special flights and medical assistance

Ethiopia and COVID-19. Urgent health, psychological and economic assistance, with the delivery of a “dignity bag” containing basic necessities, protection devices from coronavirus and a contribution of 3,000 birr, equal to about 90 euros. And then support in the reintegration phase in the communities of origin, also with training courses.

The Italian NGO Comunità Volontari per il Mondo (CVM) is putting in place to assist 649 domestic women workers from Ethiopia, repatriated at the end of May in the middle of COVID-19 pandemic.

Giampaolo Longhi, head of mission of CVM in Ethiopia and winner of the International Volunteer Award Focsiv 2019 explains more about this.


COVID-19 and Ethiopia: the CVM analysis

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), from April to June 14, about 16,400 women have returned to the country, mainly from Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries.

Mr Longhi said, “the government of Addis Ababa has put together an emergency inter-ministerial committee to manage the repatriation of Ethiopian workers from Arab countries”.

Together with the World Organization for Migration (IOM), the committee set up by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed entrusted CVM with the assistance of 649 women workers who returned from Lebanon with two flights on May 28 and 30.

According to Mr Longhi, the Lebanese situation is one of the most critical. “Domestic work is not recognized as such and the women are entrusted to the families for whom they work according to the ancient system of ‘kafala. They turn out to be basically hostages of the employers'”, underlines the operator.


The pandemic has worsened the current economic and social crisis

Mr Longhi also points out that COVID-19 pandemic in Lebanon has aggravated an already severe economic and social crisis. Abandoned to their fate by employers, the difficulties experienced by women are often evident when they return.

For this reason 18 of them have been entrusted directly to the CVM facilities. These are women who presented a particular vulnerability from a psychological point of view. On the other hand, the other migrants are housed in quarantine facilities, which is coming to an end.

“Returning to their own communities is now beginning an extremely delicate phase,” says the CVM’s head of mission.


COVID-19 in Ethiopia, CVM will take care of 220 people

The organization will now follow 220 people in this path, backed by two years of experience in the field and support to migrants returning to Ethiopia from Lebanon.

Mr Longhi reports, “we have an ongoing project in the country called Secure Women Migration Cycle. It is funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and carried out in partnership with the Caritas of the two countries and the Italian Lay Mission Centre”.

“We support them in all phases guaranteeing a path of security and welcome between Lebanon and Ethiopia thanks to the support of Caritas, and supporting them on their return home, both on arrival and reintegration into the community”, emphasized Mr Longhi. CVM is part of Focsiv, Federation of Christian organizations international voluntary service.

“We have also decided – says Longhi – to promote with the local trade union Cetu the ratification by the Ethiopian government of Convention 189 of the International Labour Organization (ILO) which requires the introduction of rules and standards for the sector”.

The Ethiopian government chose CVM also because of the results achieved with this initiative, which in two years has guaranteed assistance to 142 women repatriated from the Arab country.


Women workers repatriated to Ethiopia for COVID-19 should not be left alone – READ THE ITALIAN ARTICLE



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