Ethiopia is inviting one million Ethiopian Diasporas to come home and celebrate Ethiopian Christmas on 01/07/2022. The great homecoming challenge targets to demonstrate that Ethiopia prevails; its citizens deserve peace and send a message of unity to the international community. In addition, the homecoming challenge commends the country’s longstanding supporters’ contribution and unreserved support at this time of need.
Various governmental and non-governmental organizations and private businesses are showing commitment to making this great event very colorful and memorable by providing efficient and one-stop services to home comers; The FDRE Immigration Nationality And Vital Events Agency /INVEA/ is a governmental office that is in charge of handling the issuance of passports, visas and other related affairs.
Thus, it can be said that this governmental body is at the heart of “The Great Ethiopian Homecoming” event.. Tamiru Ginbetaw is the Deputy Director of the agency. ABN had the pleasure of discussing the preparations and other activities that the agency has been undertaking since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made the open national call.
Speaking of the activities and responsibilities that the agency has been undertaking in relation to the homecoming call, Tamiru, INVEA Deputy Director Tamiru Ginbetaw said that the Immigration and Vital Events Registration Agency is at the culmination of the necessary preparations. For this special event, there have been modifications to existing entry and visa issuance laws.
The Immigration bureau has prepared special provisions for travellers with no travel document or no renewed passports. These people can have online access to renew and request for new passports and other travel documents. The system is swift in that after online requests are made it will deliver the passports and nationality IDs in less than 15 days.
“Residents of some Caribbean countries wishing to travel to Ethiopia as per the homecoming call are also being handed out on arrival visas. These countries stood with Ethiopia on the no more movement”
Another effort by the Immigration and Nationality Affairs Department is the issuance of passport and IDs that were requested before Ethiopia closed some of its abroad embassies due to budget shortages. These prior requests are being handled and nearing completion at the time of this writing.
Tamiru also said that online visa issuance is underway through its e-visa system. Applicants are guaranteed swift services with optimum delivery times and for those travelers who have not secured their visas through the online system can get on arrival visas at the Ethiopian airlines.
The department is making sure that every diaspora gets on arrival visa without any obstacles through its effective system of operation. Residents of some Caribbean countries wishing to travel to Ethiopia as per the homecoming call are also being handed out on arrival visas. These countries stood with Ethiopia on the no more movement, Tamiru recalled.
The agency also reached agreements with overseas consular offices, embassies and diaspora associations to work in collaboration so that the process of arrival and travelling can be done with no glitch. He said that the agency has made arrangements to avail a special entrance counter for on arrival visa services at Ethiopian Airlines.
Although large scale preparations are underway on the agency’s part, there have been some system shortcomings that are compromising the issuance of e-visa and passports through online system. This problem is directly associated with the nationwide internet connectivity problem. To solve this the agency has made sure that an alternative CDM system is operational. Also, since the servers of the online portal are busy during days, employees are working on the night shift to serve the diaspora community.
Tamiru expressed his take on the national homecoming and what it means to the immigration and nationality affairs agency. In his remarks, the deputy director said that the great Ethiopian homecoming is a never seen before spectacle and a unique experience for the people of Ethiopia and the diaspora community. It allows for the different societies of Ethiopian from all walks of life to voice their agenda of solidarity and unity withstanding foreign pressures.
“The 2nd impoundment of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam/GERD/ through the involvement of both local and diaspora communities which is an instance that shows one of the most notable economic victories secured by the reformed government amidst the ongoing conflict and western pressures.”
As can be expected, the first and foremost contribution of the diaspora in the homecoming is to stimulate the economy through foreign currency. Another frontline is through aiding war ravaged regions through humanitarian efforts. The deputy general specifically mentioned the actions of some Diasporas by bringing in medicines and other pharmaceuticals to mitigate the widespread social and humanitarian crises especially in the Amhara and Afar regions.
Another humanitarian effort is donation of clothes and other basic necessities. This actions show that unity and solidarity are the basics to solving national crises. In connection to this, Tamiru underscored the 2nd impoundment of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam/GERD/ through the involvement of both local and diaspora communities which is an instance that shows one of the most notable economic victories secured by the reformed government amidst the ongoing conflict and western pressures.
Speaking of some of the glitches encountered during arrival, Tamiru mentioned of some instances where applicants arrive at the airport with reference numbers for their visa applications but have not been able to get their respective visas. Such cases are handled by a section availed at the Ethiopian airlines and such glitches are be solved in a matter of minutes. For Diasporas with spouses and children having different nationalities, they are served with special arrangements with the bureau well organized to handle such cases adeptly.
The homecoming call is made for non-Ethiopians also. The government of Ethiopia has called on other African countries nationals to come to Ethiopia in a bid to broaden the event and give it a pan-African context. The diaspora community on the other hand, is urged to invite at least one foreigner to the homecoming call and such foreigners responding to the call will also receive instant visas.
The deputy director has also stressed that all forms of bottlenecks have solutions since the department is well-prepared. There is also a special arrangement for Ethiopian asylum seekers whose citizenships had previously been revoked. Since these asylum seekers, have expressed their resentment towards western pressures and skewed propagandas they have also been invited to the homecoming event.
Tamiru also conveyed a message for the diaspora community. While lauding the diaspora community’s victory in expressing its objections to westerners’ imposing ideologies, he added that the great homecoming call by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is a culmination of this national victory. As such the diaspora must come to Ethiopia to celebrate and revel in victory.
Through the united and organized actions of both local and Diasporas, Ethiopians have been able to come out as victors in successfully averting western propaganda. To assist the incoming diaspora travelers, the Ethiopian nationality and vital events agency is on standby to assist and help with all necessary means. Tamiru mentioned that directives are sent to embassies and concerned bodies and has urged the diaspora to prepare for their trip as per the instructions of these bodies of government and join the homecoming event.