Mozambique has deported more than 50 Ethiopians who had entered the country illegally, in some cases after a six-week journey, officials say.
According to a statement from the Mozambican Immigration Service (SENAMI), 40 Ethiopians were found in the bush in the central district of Gorongosa, and the others were arrested in other parts of the country.
They reportedly told the immigration authority that had made the long overland journey from Ethiopia, via Kenya and Tanzania, seeking economic opportunities in neighbouring South Africa.
Some of the Ethiopians said they had been travelling for six weeks and claim to have paid huge sums of money to transporters.
Mozambican National Immigration Services spokeswoman Cira Fernandes said the Ethiopians had no passports or other documents.
Repatriations are equally costly for the government. Immigration spokeswoman Cira Fernandes said last year, the government spent more than $200,000 repatriating nearly 4,000 undocumented migrants.
However, the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) agreed to carry the cost of deporting the latest batch, providing the Ethiopians with food and medical care.
Ethiopian media portal reported that the country’s foreign ministry said ‘‘Ethiopians who were detained in Mozambique have returned home by a combined effort between Ethiopia’s embassy in South Africa and IOM.’‘
Fernandes added that IOM will help them “start up small-scale businesses to avoid becoming illegal immigrants again”.