26 March 2014
World Bulletin / News Desk
Police have arrested 39 undocumented immigrants and two human traffickers from Ethiopia near the frontier town of Merille in Kenya’s Samburu County.
“They will be charged by Wednesday for being in the country illegally,” Samburu Police Chief Samuel Muthamia told Anadolu Agency by phone on Tuesday.
The Ethiopians, who are all believed to be in their 20s, were on their way to Nairobi when police intercepted them.
According to police, they had no Ethiopian travel documents but spoke fluent Amharic, Ethiopia’s national language.
Most of them are believed to be immigrants seeking employment in Nairobi or in South Africa.
Based on previous cases, the Ethiopians are likely to be fined no more than $250 each or face a three-month jail terms before being deported.
At least 143 Ethiopians have been arrested in Kenya since the beginning of 2014, according to official figures.
Kenya has been criticized for having less severe punishments for human traffickers.
Human trafficking has recently been on the rise in Ethiopia and other parts of East Africa.
Well-organized cartels control the illegal, multimillion-dollar trade running from Ethiopia to South Africa.
Despite the erection of police posts near the Kenya-Ethiopia border, the illegal trade remains a serious problem, with arrests made at least every week, according to the Kenya police.
“This is a lucrative business worth millions of shillings,” Mohammed Duba, an anti-human trafficking lobbyist based in the border town of Moyale, told AA.
“It’s almost impossible to put an end to it,” he added.
“A lot of money goes into bribing immigration officers and police,” the activist asserted. “Any resistance to the cartel could lead to death.”
According to Duba, one would-be Ethiopian immigrant can pay up to $1000 to be trafficked to Nairobi.
This month, the Ethiopian government signed a two-year agreement with the International Organization for Migration to improve the East African nation’s ability to combat human trafficking.