ADDIS ABABA – Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen has made a rallying call for the public to tackle human trafficking following two deadly incidents involving Ethiopian migrants.
Authorities held a Forum under the theme, ‘Let’s prevent human trafficking together through strong community participation,’ on Saturday.
It comes after two mass graves of the bodies of Ethiopian migrants were found in Malawi and Zambia in the past two months. Migrants often use the two countries as transit to reach South Africa.
Speaking at the forum, Demeke noted that human trafficking and illegal migration have been the challenges of the country, in addition to the conflict in the north.
Drawn by the success stories of a few individuals that could not represent the whole picture of migration and its perils, many Ethiopians became victims of human traffickers, he said.
“The recent tragedies that befall our citizens in Malawi and Zambia demonstrate how serious the problem is,” he said.
Addressing the root causes of human trafficking and illegal migration requires the active participation of all Ethiopians, as per Demeke.
Reports say many Ethiopians often migrate to the Gulf States and South Africa seeking employment through irregular migration channels.
Govt to step up Awareness campaigns
The government has been repatriating Ethiopian migrants stranded in various countries in the past few years. It is now engaging in a public awareness campaign on illegal migration.
In just one year, Demeke said, more than 100,000 illegal migrants were repatriated, while more than 5,000 prisoners still remain in Tanzania.
Authorities held the forum, attended by several ministers, in Hosanna City – an administrative center of the Hadiya zone of the SNNP Region of Ethiopia.
Demeke said the forum was held in Hosanna because, according to studies, it is one of the areas that is highly affected by human trafficking in the country.
Awareness campaigns will be strengthened in the northeastern parts of the country, where the problem is also prominent, the deputy prime minister added.
Featured Image: Ethiopian migrants airlifted from Saudi Arabia arriving at Addis Ababa airport earlier this year