End of the road for 14 Ethiopian refugees in Kenya

By Reuben Wanyama

14 Ethiopian aliens were on Monday charged at a Machakos court for being in the country illegally.

Appearing before Principal Magistrate Carol Ocharo, the 14 foreigners denied the charges and were released after being fined 20,000 shillings each, or face imprisonment, of 130 days.

The court further ordered for their deportation after they pay the fines.

The Ethiopians aliens were arrested last month at Chumvi Trading Centre in Machakos along the Nairobi-Mombasa highway.

Kenyan police have previously said the routes used by those who sneak people from the Horn of Africa are the same ones used to smuggle illegal weapons, drugs, elephant ivory and rhino tusks.

Early last year, 95 Ethiopians were arrested near the Kenya-Tanzania border on their way to South Africa.

This incident comes weeks after 12 Ethiopians were arrested hiding at a house at Kahawa area.

It has since then been established that some unscrupulous Kenyans have involved in  doing lucrative business of helping aliens from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia to enter the country illegally.

There has been an influx of Ethiopian aliens into the country who later head to South Africa in search of employment.

Kenyan authorities are, however, blaming the vastness of the region for the influx of foreigners into Kenya through Moyale on Kenya-Ethiopia borders.

In July 24 aliens from Ethiopia were arrested in Lodwar, Turkana County.

The 24 were apprehended by authorities after the vehicle they were travelling in was involved in an accident killing one of them on the spot and injuring several others.

The other suspects were seized and arraigned in court where they were charged of being in the country illegally.

However, the aliens could not respond to the charges as they did not speak English causing difficulty in communication.

A report from The International Organization for Migration indicates that more than Ksh 90 million is illegally earned by human traffickers monthly by smuggling Ethiopian nationals across the Kenya–Ethiopia border with the prospect of sending them by road to South Africa.

The report further shows that an average of 30 Ethiopians illegally cross the border daily in a racket that has been going on for the last 15 years.

The statistics from Ethiopian Embassy in South Africa estimates that approximately 45,000 to 50,000 of their countrymen have made South Africa their home.

The report says the numbers are increasing every week due to the influx of new arrivals, primarily from large-scale, successful smuggling operations from Ethiopia.