IOM has helped 39 Ethiopian migrants stranded in Zambia en route to South Africa to return home. The migrants included 24 adults and 15 unaccompanied minors, who were intercepted by the Zambian authorities and gaoled for illegal entry.
The migrants were promised an easy journey and well-paid jobs in South Africa by their smugglers. “I left Ethiopia to go to South Africa in the hope of getting a good job that paid well to send money to my family back home,” said Bahiru* (*name changed).
The journey was in fact a nightmare. “We were placed in containers so tightly packed we could barely breathe. We were beaten with sticks and belts. We saw the smugglers bribe the border patrols and that’s how we were able to cross countries until we were caught in Zambia,” said Dereje.*
The conditions in Zambian gaol were little better. “The prison cells were congested and squalid and insults were thrown at us constantly,” he added, promising to warn others in his home town when he eventually got home to Ethiopia.
On arrival in Addis Ababa, the adult returnees were provided with temporary accommodation, medical support, reinsertion allowance and onward transportation to their respective hometowns.
The 15 unaccompanied minors are currently being accommodated at the IOM Transit Center in Addis Ababa awaiting family tracing and reunification support, which will be jointly carried out by the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs of Ethiopia and UNICEF.
IOM worked with the Governments of Zambia and Ethiopia to facilitate the return of the migrants.
“Since the beginning of 2016 we have helped over 1,700 Ethiopians to safely return home. We hope to continue our operation to provide safe return support to additional 1,000 Ethiopians from Yemen within the coming weeks,” said Fumiko Nagano, IOM Ethiopia’s Migration Management Programme Coordinator in Addis Ababa.