Addis Abeba – Immigration authorities in Zambia have deported 44 irregular migrants to Ethiopia, a spokesperson told Zambian media. Namati Nshinka, the Public Relations Officer of the Immigration Department, however, said one of the migrants died at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport Monday, as the group was preparing to board a plane. The news reports didn’t disclose the name of the diseased.
Zambian media quoting the spokesperson said the 20-year-old Ethiopian national collapsed and was pronounced dead by medical personnel based at the airport. “The cause of death is yet to be determined. The other 43 were successfully removed from the country,” Namati said.
According to him, the deportation brings the total number of Ethiopians removed from Zambia between 08 and 12 September this year alone to 107.
Namati expressed his concerns that irregular immigrants from countries in the Horn of Africa, assisted by human traffickers and smugglers, have continued to undertake dangerous journeys in search of greener pastures.
In June this year, more than 500 Ethiopian migrants who were stranded in Malawi expressed their wishes to return to their country and were issued with travel documents by Ethiopian authorities, according to a verification exercise conducted by the Ethiopian authorities with support from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The IOM said that Malawi is a country of transit located on the overland route to South Africa, also known as the ‘Southern Route’. The route is mainly used by irregular migrants from Ethiopia and Somalia looking to find economic opportunities as far down as Cape Town. Hence, they have to travel through Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe or Mozambique before entering South Africa.
The migrants are often exposed to violence, exploitation and abuse, both in transit countries and at destination, the IOM said.
In 2015, Zambian Police in Serenje intercepted a truck carrying 100 Ethiopian irregular immigrants who were hidden behind bags of dry lake sardines locally known as kapenta. The truck, which was seized at Kanona police check point on Great North Road in Central Province, was, from Nakonde to an unknown destination within Zambia.
In 2017, Zambia released some 150 Ethiopian migrants aged between 15 and 38 and had been detained after they received a presidential pardon. They had been detained in Zambia for between one and five years and were serving various immigration-related sentences in prisons across the country, according to Zambian media reports. AS