Some 63 illegal immigrants from Ethiopia are being held by Tanzanian authorities, with about 40 others said to be on the run.
According to the police, about 100 Ethiopian immigrants sneaked into Tanzania via Nairobi and Mombasa on their way to South Africa but the lorry they were travelling in was intercepted following an accident in the area over the Easter weekend.
According to Njombe Regional Police Commander Hamis Issah, a Scania lorry ferrying the Ethiopians stalled after it was involved in an accident with a car and the immigrants escaped.
Njombe Regional Immigration Officer Vincent Haule confirmed the incident and said that 63 Ethiopians, who looked exhausted, were arrested from a hideout in a nearby farm, and that police were still searching for about another 40 escapees.
Mr Haule noted that the Ethiopians sneaked into the nation through the porous border between Tanzania and Kenya.
“These Ethiopian nationals travelled from Nairobi and Mombasa then entered Tanzania through Tanga. We have arrested 63 and we are searching for 40 who are still on the run,” he said.
Tanzania has been rated as the leading entry point for illegal immigrants from Eastern Africa sneaking to Southern Africa states to seek economic fortunes.
South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia and Botswana are the final destinations for immigrants from the Horn of Africa.
There are 4,419 illegal immigrants in Tanzanian prisons whose maintenance costs the government about Tsh5.8 billion ($ 2.5 million) annually.
Daily food budget
The annual report of the Controller and Auditor-General (CAG) for the financial year ended June 30, 2022 that was submitted to the Tanzanian Parliament had indicated that the daily food budget stood at Tsh 5,000/- ($ 2.1) for each immigrant held in the country awaiting deportation.
For a period ranging from one to five years, prohibited immigrants and deportees who have failed to return to their home countries have been living in Tanzanian prisons , the CAG report said.
All in all, the deportation of the illegal immigrants is a diplomatic issue that requires consultation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and ambassadors from their countries of citizenry.