Tanzania has expressed concern over an increase in illegal Ethiopian immigrants apprehended en route to South Africa.
Reports indicate that between 2020 and 2021, more than 15,786 illegal immigrants were arrested in Tanzania, mainly from the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region.
Tanzanian police and immigration officials in Dodoma intercepted 51 Ethiopian immigrants traveling to South Africa last week. Dodoma regional police commander Onesmo Lyanga said the Ethiopians were hidden in a truck that was filled with fresh tomatoes and travelling from Kilimanjaro in northern Tanzania to the south.
Previously, immigrants from Ethiopia would enter Tanzania through the coastal zone, but police road blocks have forced drivers to utilize other routes.
According to Tanzania’s police spokesman David Misime, immigrants enter Tanzania with the support of locals through negotiated payments.
International Organization for Migration reports indicate that each immigrant pays between $1,600 and $3,000 to syndicates that facilitate the move to South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia.
At a parliament debate last year, the Tanzanian Minister for Home Affairs George Simbachawene reported that over 1,000 illegal immigrants had been arrested between July and October, most of them from neighbouring countries and the Horn of Africa. Kenya and Tanzania have porous borders, making them key entry points for Ethiopians and Somalis.
Kenya and Tanzania are known to have the most illegal immigrants crossing at Kilimanjaro, Arusha, and Tanga, as well as at Lamu, Mombasa, and Pangani in Tanga via Indian Ocean, according to immigration reports.
There are hundreds of unmanned entry points in Namanga (Arusha), Holili and Tarakea (Kilimanjaro), and Horohoro (Tanga) while speedboats use informal ports along Tanga’s Indian Ocean coastline to ferry immigrants from Somalia.
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