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Last Group Of Ethiopian Migrants to Be Assisted By IOM This Year Heads Home From Tanzania

By International Office of Migration (IOM)
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GENEVA, Switzerland, December 2, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- A final group of 150 Ethiopian migrants who have spent more than a year in Tanzanian prisons as irregular migrants and who wanted to go back home, has been assisted by IOM to return to Ethiopia. The group is part of 910 Ethiopian migrants helped by IOM this year.

The assistance to the migrants, who have now arrived in Ethiopia, was funded by the Japanese government.

Before their departure, the migrants were given medical checks by IOM staff. Several of them were found to be suffering from malaria and skin diseases but were fit to travel. IOM provided each migrant with new clothing and shoes.

The migrants are among the many thousands of Ethiopians who leave their homes to make their way to South Africa in search of employment and a better life. After paying smugglers, they are taken to Kenya from where they embark on a dangerous one-week journey across the Indian Ocean to Mozambique before going on to South Africa.

However, upon arrival in Mozambique, the smugglers often abandon them to their fate, including some of the migrants in this particular group.

One of the migrants told IOM that shortly after arriving in Mozambique and being arrested by local authorities, he and others were stripped of all their clothes and belongings before being made to swim across the Ruvuma River which marks the border between Mozambique and Tanzania.

In Tanzania, the migrants were arrested by local police and put in prison as Tanzania has no designated centres for holding irregular migrants. Conditions there are difficult due to overcrowding and insufficient resources to provide nourishment and medical care.

As with other Ethiopian migrants wanting to return home, this group will be helped by IOM to reach their final destinations in Ethiopia and to reintegrate into their communities.

Since 2009, IOM, with funding from the government of Japan, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, and the US State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) has helped more than 2,360 stranded Ethiopian migrants who have wanted to return home to do so.