Police officers arrested in Marsabit for human trafficking

There has been an influx of Ethiopian nationals in the country most of them headed to SA.

Saturday March 12 2016

Police storm a house in Kamae in Kahawa West estate in Nairobi to arrest 23 Ethiopian migrants on March 9, 2016. Three police officers have been arrested in Marsabit County for trafficking the migrants to Nairobi. PHOTO | WILLIAM OERI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Police storm a house in Kamae in Kahawa West estate in Nairobi to arrest 23 Ethiopian migrants on March 9, 2016. Three police officers have been arrested in Marsabit County for trafficking the migrants to Nairobi. PHOTO | WILLIAM OERI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By KEN BETT
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By JOEL MUINDE
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Three police officers were Friday arrested in connection with human trafficking in Marsabit County as Kenya continues to deal with hundreds of Ethiopian nationals passing through on a perilous journey to South Africa in search of a better life.

The officers were arrested at Sololo area for allegedly ferrying 23 Ethiopian migrants to Nairobi.

"The officers are under investigations in Moyale," said the acting Marsabit County Police Commander Mark Wanjala on phone without elaborating.

In November last year, the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission officers arrested an immigration officer in Moyale who reportedly issued irregular permits to foreigners.

There has been an influx of Ethiopian nationals in the country most of them headed to South Africa in search of greener pastures.

Last year, Marsabit Governor Ukur Yattani urged security agencies to deal firmly with the challenge of illegal aliens.

On Wednesday, police arrested 23 Ethiopians who were found hiding in a house at Kamae in Kahawa West, Nairobi.

The police had to shoot in the air to save the foreigners from being lynched by angry residents, who accused them of being criminals.

On February 14 this year, nine Ethiopian nationals who had been arrested the previous day were fined Sh100,000 each or serve a year in jail for being the country illegally.

Appearing before Marsabit senior resident magistrate Boaz Ombewa, the nine pleaded guilty with the help of an interpreter after they were found hiding in a bridge in Hula Hula Marsabit central on Sunday.

On January 18 this year, BBC reported that 80 Ethiopians migrants believed to have been headed to South Africa were found crammed into the back of a lorry near the Tanzania-Malawi border.

GRAVE RISKS

According to IRIN, a news agency focusing on humanitarian stories, most of the migration from Ethiopian is undocumented, so accurate numbers are hard to come by.

But since the country has one of Africa’s largest populations, a staggering 96.6 million people, and has been hit by recurrent drought, conflict, growing rate of youth unemployment and shortage of job opportunities, many young people (economic migrants) have chosen to seek better life in South Africa, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

The migrants face many challenges on their way to South Africa, including arrests, fines, jail and in some cases death.

They are forced to play hide and seek with security agents in the several countries they have to cross in order to get to their destination.

In June 2012, according to the BBC, 40 migrants from Ethiopian were found dead after they suffocated inside a truck transporting them in central Tanzania.

Even though information about how many undocumented Ethiopians are in South Africa, the Christian Science Monitor reported that around 75,000 Ethiopians tried to reach the Gulf in 2014, with tens of thousands more making the dangerous journey to reach South Africa and Europe.

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