By Jorge Joaquim
Migration authorities have caught 67 alleged illegal immigrants at Pemba airport in Cabo Delgado province in two weeks, one month after the opening of borders which were closed due to covid-19.
Last week 35 immigrants were intercepted, comprising 30 Pakistanis and five Ethiopians, and this week 32 were arrested, 30 of them Somalis and two Ethiopians, according to a spokesman for the provincial migration services.
The 67, who had declared themselves tourists, were questioned on two flights from Nairobi, Kenya, and did not present entry visas or letters of invitation showing that they were visiting someone, the spokesman said, adding that they had no financial means to stay in the country.
Also, police detained on Tuesday 46 Ethiopian immigrants who were found inside container lorries in Tete province, near the border with Malawi. The driver and a person who had allegedly helped with the illegal immigration were also arrested, along with three lorries, their containers, and 1m Malawian kwacha ($1314).
Tete is now a key human trafficking route. In March, 64 Ethiopian immigrants were found asphyxiated in the container of a lorry after illegally crossing the border from Malawi. The 14 survivors have been repatriated. Two of the seven defendants in that case were convicted in October by a court in Tete. The driver of the car was sentenced to eight years in prison, while a guide of the group was sentenced to nine years, both for involuntary homicide. As usual, the operatives behind the scene, the real culprits, were not identified