EU’s visa restrictions takes effect on Ethiopia amid dispute over 4,500 Refugees

In a move that has strained relations between the EU and Ethiopia, the European Union announced visa restrictions targeting Ethiopians on April 29, 2024. The decision, set to take effect on June 1, 2024, cites Ethiopia’s unwillingness to repatriate 4,500 of its citizens residing illegally in EU member states.

Under the new rules, Ethiopians will be limited to obtaining single-entry visas to the EU, and those holding diplomatic or service passports will no longer be granted visas free of charge.

Capital sources suggest the visa restrictions could have been avoided if the Ethiopian government had agreed to immediately accept the 4,500 refugees. However, Ethiopia has only repatriated 555 of its citizens from Europe over the past three years, despite repeated requests from the EU.

The Ethiopian Embassy in Brussels expressed concern over the temporary visa restrictions, stating that the two sides were working to ensure the “dignified, orderly and sustainable return” of the Ethiopian citizens lacking legal permission to reside in the EU.

The EU Council imposed the visa measures on the grounds that Ethiopia’s efforts to repatriate its 4,500 citizens staying in the EU illegally were insufficient. There has been no indication from the EU on how long the visa restrictions will remain in place.

The dispute over the repatriation of the 4,500 refugees comes as the EU faces a large influx of migrants, with 380,000 crossing EU borders illegally last year – the highest number since 2016. The Ethiopian government’s willingness to accept refugees from other countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Yemen, could set a precedent for resolving the current impasse with the EU.

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