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“Families borrow money from neighbors or sell their cows and jewelry to send their daughters to the Middle East,” explains Mr. Yilikal. “And they expect remittances in return.” According to the World Bank, 14 percent of Ethiopian adults regularly receive remittances, which total $3.2 billion per year.

However, many experts do not believe poverty and lack of economic opportunity, alone, fully explain the root causes of migration to the Middle East.

“The main reason is economic, but I don’t think the economic need is greater now than before,” says Lettegebriel Hailu, executive director of the Family Service Association, which assists victims of domestic violence in Addis Ababa. “However, the information now is more accessible than before. I think they hear more about immigration.

“And the competition is not the same. When I was growing up, it was ‘go to church, serve your family, go to school, be good and disciplined, respect your neighbor.’ Today, youngsters want to become rich first of all. They want to dress up. They want a beautiful house. They want to earn a good salary and enjoy the good life. There’s no patience like before. They just want to be independent.”

Ms. Lettegebriel is currently designing a program that will help prepare migrants before they leave. It will provide information about life in the Middle East and the perils migrants may encounter. It will also offer training in basic skills required of domestic workers.

“They have to know what they will face there,” explains Ms. Lettegebriel. “Some don’t know how to wash a glass, make a bed, operate modern kitchen appliances, cook or speak English, let alone Arabic. They have no idea. For those who are sensible, they might change their mind. For those who still want to go, at least they’ll have skills and a sense of the consequences, and know how to seek help if they find trouble.”

Ms. Lettegebriel’s professional work with migrants does not insulate her own family from the economic and social pressures underpinning migration. At the moment, a 16-year-old relative has made up her mind to move to Israel, with or without her family’s blessing.

“Her mother and father, eight brothers and sisters, myself, her extended family — all of us — are disturbed by what she is doing,” says Ms. Lettegebriel.

She sits in the F.S.A.’s lobby across from the girl who just arrived in the capital by bus from her hometown, Irob, a dusty agricultural village in the north near the Eritrean border.

“Irob is a farming area where the land is eroded,” explains Ms. Lettegebriel. “No fertility means no jobs and no young people. Only elderly people remain there.”

The teenager has come to say goodbye to her sister and brother, both professionals in Addis Ababa, and Ms. Lettegebriel before leaving for Israel.

“If her friends leave for the Middle East and one or two give her information — ‘I’m getting a good salary. This is a good life. You should come.’ — then, she feels she has to go, that she has to change her life,” says Ms. Lettegebriel. Though she glances at the girl, she is speaking for thousands of other young migrants.

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Tags: Ethiopia Middle East Migrants Women (rights/issues) Employment