Ethiopian Survivors of Migrant Container Truck Tragedy Repatriated

ADDIS ABABA – The UN migration Agency announced on Sunday it has helped repatriate 11 Ethiopians who escaped death after having been locked in the container of a smuggler’s truck.

They and sixty-four of other migrants who did not survive were discovered in a container after the truck crossed the Malawi-Mozambique border in March.

The repatriating operation was coordinated by the governments of Ethiopia and Mozambique, assisted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the EU-IOM joint effort.

Thousands of Ethiopians, desperate to escape poverty at home, make the dangerous trek from the Horn of Africa to Southern Africa each year.

This particular journey turned out to be a harrowing experience, IOM’s spokesman, Paul Dillon, told VoA.

“It was a tragedy that shook the African continent: the remains of 64 migrants from Ethiopia found locked in a container in the back of a truck, discovered on 24 March near Tete, Mozambique… A month after escaping death, the men agreed it is a miracle they survived,” he said.

Dillon says the young men recount being tortured by the smugglers and deprived of food and water while walking for days through the forest.

But the worst experience they say was being locked in the truck’s container for days.

Dillon says the migrants describe the horrors of being confined in a space that could barely hold 20 people where 78 people were piled one on top of another.

Mozambican authorities “brought the survivors to a hospital in Tete, where the young men were treated for dehydration and exhaustion.” he said.

While in Tete, three of the survivors left the facility and have yet to be located, says Dillon.

He says the other 11 survivors have been repatriated to Ethiopia where they will be returned to their home communities in Oromia and SNNP regional states.  The bodies of 64 the dead buried in Mozambique few days after the accident.

Image: The lorry was found in Moatize, near this bridge crossing the Zambezi River