The Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services has deported 123 Ethiopian nationals to their country. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) supported the return of the illegal immigrants back to their native country.
According to Immigration’s Deputy Public Relations Officer, Wellingtone Chiponde, the group is among 134 irregular migrants, including 13 unaccompanied minors, from Ethiopia who were detained after being found stranded in the borders of Malawi between November 2020 and March 2021.
“When IOM learnt about the plight of the migrants, it offered to assist their voluntary return to their country of origin,” he said.
Of the 134 Ethiopians, 123 have left the country on chartered flight facilitated by IOM, he said.
The remaining 11 migrants will be flown out through traditional commercial flight as the charter could not accommodate all the 134 migrants, he said.
He added that IOM has been working closely with the Ministry of Health to facilitate PCR tests for COVID-19 and other health assessments to determine the migrants’ fitness to travel.
Immigration formalities subjected the migrants to a verification exercise of authenticating their nationalities which was facilitated by IOM and conducted by the Department of Immigration and officials from the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, he said.
Malawi experiences high volumes of irregular migrants mainly from the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region who uses Malawi as a transit country enroute to other Southern African countries to search for greener pastures.
Chiponde observed that the majority of these migrants are either smuggled or victims of Trafficking in Persons.
Despite the country’s porous borders, he said, the Department of Immigration is applying multifaceted approaches to curb the influx of irregular migrants into the country.