from ADANE BIKILA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
ADDIS ABABA, (CAJ News) – MORE than 130 Ethiopian migrants have been repatriated from Malawi after failed attempts to reach South Africa this year.
They had been in detention for being in Malawi illegally as they waited sought to proceed to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional economic powerhouse.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) facilitated the return of 12 of these individuals this week.
Among the returnees were boys and men aged between 15 and 45.
Authorities in Malawi intercepted them in October 2020 and March 2021.
The first batch of migrants arrived back in Ethiopia on September 8, consisting of 122 migrants.
Malawi is on what is called the Southern Migration Route.
Mainly Ethiopian migrants use it to travel to Southern Africa to find improved economic opportunities.
This overland route takes them through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe or Mozambique and eventually South Africa, for many.
IOM reports that arrest by the authorities is among the risks faced by migrants on this route.
Those detained may stand months, and even years in detention, on allegations of breaching immigration regulations.
Mpilo Nkomo, Chief of Mission of IOM in Malawi, said movement restrictions and border closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic were forcing migrants to utilize the services of smugglers.
The 134 returnees have been provided with post-arrival support in the form of psycho-social and orientation counselling as well onward transportation to their communities of origin.
Social workers from the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs has assisted the children track their families.
Reintegration support in the form of assistance in enrolling for vocational educational or the allocation of a grant to establish a small business will be offered.
Children qualify for assistance enabling them to return to school. Their families are to be assisted with livelihoods support.
– CAJ News