Eight asylum-seekers suffocate en route to South Africa
Eight Ethiopian asylum seekers have died while attempting to reach South Africa from Mozambique, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.
The eight were part of a group of 26 Ethiopian men travelling in a container truck from the Marante refugee camp in northern Mozambique.
UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic says the deaths highlight the dangers asylum seekers face as they attempt to make their way into South Africa in search of a better life.
UNHCR estimates that over 2,500 Ethiopians crossed into South Africa from the Marante camp last year.
“The dangers for people fleeing the Horn of Africa northwards across the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea are relatively well known. We believe the risks for those heading southwards through East Africa or via Indian Ocean routes are also substantial. In January, UNHCR received reports that eight Somali and three Ethiopian asylum-seekers had drowned off the coast of Mozambique. In May, last year, nine Somalis also drowned off Mozambique in the search for safety.”
In the meantime the International Organization for Migration has begun a programme to assist Ethiopian migrants stranded in Tanzania return home.
Many of the migrants become stranded in the country en route to South Africa and beyond.