Over 30,000 Ethiopian maids ran away in Saudi Arabia

Riyadh, Dec 27: Saudi Arabia registered over 30,000 cases of Ethiopian domestic workers walking out of their jobs over the past year, authorities said.

According to official statistics from the Ministry of Labour, around 31,700 Ethiopian maids ran away from their jobs. Economists estimate that the citizens were left with a heavy financial burden as a result of these cases.

The overall number of domestic workers who left their sponsors high and dry was estimated at 58,715 based on a report prepared by the Ministry of Labour.

The report indicated that 54 percent of absconding expatriates were maids, while 45 percent were drivers.

Riyadh registered the highest number of runaway housekeepers, followed by the Eastern Province and Makkah. The Northern Province and Al-Baha witnessed the least number of absconding domestic workers.

The report also pointed out that around 500,000 expatriates were absent from their jobs in various companies and establishments across the country during the first quarter of the year, with rates of absenteeism pegged at 6 percent.

Around 59 percent of those who had walked out of their jobs had left the country on multiple exit/re-entry visas, while 40 percent remained in the country.

The number of absconding women working for private companies was 9,454.

The phenomenon of runaway domestic workers was a cause for concern for many Saudi families especially since domestic recruitment offices were previously not required to supply families with alternative maids after the end of the three-month trial period.

Khalid Al-Azhari, an employee working at a domestic recruitment office, highlighted that the new recruitment regulations provide clients with guarantees against absconding maids, including providing an alternative housekeeper even if she had one remaining month of service.

The new regulations are considered to be an improvement to the previous system, which compensated clients for absconding domestic workers only during the first three months of employment.

IANS