Dar es Salaam. Ethiopia said it would spend $560,000 (about Sh1.3 billion) to repatriate its 1,373 citizens who stay in Tanzania illegally.
The Ethiopian embassy in Dar es Salaam told The Citizen yesterday that the amount covers air tickets only.
Tanzania has for many years been grappling with increasing number of illegal immigrants, mainly Ethiopians who uses the country as an easy route to South Africa where they go in search for economic fortunes.
Two years ago, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) warned human trafficking cases reached alarming levels in Tanzania, with increasing numbers of people entering the country on their way to South Africa and Mozambique.
It is estimated that over 12,000 illegal immigrants pass through Tanzania to southern African countries every year, mostly from Ethiopia, Somalia, Burundi and Rwanda.
“We have already repatriated 1,000 Ethiopians. We are remained with about 300 who are currently in Tanga and Kilimanjaro prisons. Our plan is to complete the exercise by March 4, this year when the last batch is expected to leave the country,” said a minister counselor at the embassy, Mr Tewodros Gima.
Mr Girma said an air ticket for each person costs about $400 (about Sh920,000), noting that internal mobilisation costs are incurred by the European Union (EU) and the IOM.
“The IOM provide internal transport from prisons while the EU will cover costs of reintegrating them to their society,” he said.
He said the embassy has received reports from Morogoro on new arrival of illegal immigrants from Ethiopia and was working with Tanzanian authorities, including the Immigration Department and the Prison Services to tackle the problem.
Many illegal immigrants from Ethiopia have died in Tanzania before reaching their final destinations. In December 2018, fourteen Ethiopian migrants were found dead inside a lorry that carried 26 aliens at Mindu area, Morogoro Morogoro.
The aliens were on their way to South Africa, through Malawi or Zambia, in search for “greener pastures”. They died of suffocation as the vehicle carrying them was too small to accommodate the 26 people.
The incident happened just two months after seven Ethiopian migrants were drowned after a boat carrying 13 people capsized off the coast of Tanzania while en route to South Africa.
Survivors told the police that they were going to South Africa.
Early this month, the Ethiopian ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Yonas Sanbe human trafficking from the Horn of Africa to South Africa and beyond via Tanzania was a very complicated route.
“The route has agents stretching from the Horn of Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi and South Africa itself. The network receive staggering amount ranging from $3,000 to $5,000 which is enough to start businesses in their respective countries,” he said.
According to him, the movement fuelled by economic hardship was natural, regional, continental and a global phenomenon which is difficult to stop.
He said the Ethiopian government has strengthened border control, arraign smugglers and traffickers and ensure those convicted are handed with severe punishments.
He said the government has also increased viable jobs to the youth and engagement of the community on the issue including in schools.
According to him, Ethiopia is also suffering a similar plight of immigrants from its neighbours, noting that major reforms have been made on the refugee law.
“These reforms allow them to obtain work permits, secure and utilize education opportunities, possess driving license and access to financial services.