Radio Erena: 14 January 2015
Eritreans in Saudi Arabia express their frustration and displeasure regarding the service fees charged by the Embassy of Eritrea in Saudi Arabia.
In a phone call they made to Erena Radio, the nationals confirmed people, especially, those households with four or more members pay around 10,000 Saudi Riyals ($2,700 US dollars) per year in fees to the embassy which includes mandatory fees for passports and ID cards renewal, 2% diaspora tax payments, and wartime fundraisings made under the disguise of defence– known as ‘MeKete’.
The callers also noted that every Eritrean national in Saudi Arabia is made to pay a total of 750 Saudi Riyals ($200 US dollars). They said Eritreans in Saudi Arabia are only allowed to use the Eritrean Passport and that unlike other nationals they are not allowed to seek any type of asylum. Eritrean passport is renewed every two years unlike the five to ten-year-renewal standard procedure followed by many other nations.
Eritrean families with children are also charged 250 Saudi Riyals ($70 US dollars) per child to send their kids to a school owned by the Eritrean community in Saudi Arabia and operated by the embassy.
An average household income for Eritreans in Saudi Arabia ranges between 1,700 and 2,000 Riyals ($450 to $550 US dollars) per month and are forced to pay the 2% diaspora tax from that. Those Eritreans in the sanitation businesses, who are believed to be better paid, are forced to pay 2% diaspora tax based on the number of trucks they use for business.
The Eritreans further disclosed that the Eritrean embassy conducts illegal money wiring services within the embassy.