|Home | Contact us | Links | Archives|
300 Somali And Ethiopian Refugees 'Disappear In Zimbabwe'
Harare, Oct. 31, 2005 (News24) – At least 300 refugees have deserted holding camps in Zimbabwe in the past two months raising fears that illegal immigrants are using the country as a transit point, a state daily reported on Monday.
"At least 300 Somalis and Ethiopians who entered the country seeking refugee status in the past two months have vanished from holding camps while the government was still processing their asylum papers," the Herald newspaper said.
"We are worried about this trend and feel Zimbabwe is being used as a transit point for irregular migration into other countries," the newspaper quoted chief immigration officer Elasto Mugwadi as saying.
Negative impact of irregular migration
The Herald said hundreds of foreigners mostly from the Great Lakes region were suspected to have crossed into Zimbabwe through undesignated points since July en route to South Africa , Botswana and other Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.
Twenty-six immigrants from Somalia were arrested in Harare last month after turning themselves over to the police.
"Irregular migration has negatively impacted on the social aspect of communities in Zimbabwe ," The Herald quoted Mugwadi as saying.
"We have received reports of marriages of convenience in the case of most Nigerian immigrants and the general flooding of foreigners not employed in the formal system but leading luxurious lives."
Illegal immigrants arrested in clean-up campaign
The Herald said the majority of the refugees came through Zimbabwe 's eastern and northern borders with Mozambique and Zambia , some hiring boats or canoes to avoid detection.
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed there was an inflow of refugees, saying they were coming from the Central African Republic , Ethiopia , Somalia and the Great Lakes Region "through both legal and illegal entry points".
"Some (are) coming to stay, some (are) on their way to other countries," he said.
In June, Zimbabwean police arrested 61 foreigners in a crackdown on illegal immigrants and criminals and an accompanying unpopular urban clean-up campaign which left hundreds of thousands destitute and homeless.
The suspected illegal immigrants included Burundians, Congolese, Mozambicans, Malawians, Nigerians and Zambians.