Ethiopia has said it will investigate the deaths of 27 of its citizens who were found dumped on the outskirts of Zambia’s capital Lusaka, reports Anadolu Agency.
Zambian authorities found the bodies of 27 men, aged between 20 and 38, in Ngwerere, a farming area near Lusaka, on Sunday.
The Ethiopian government will “send experts to the area to confirm the identities of the citizens who allegedly lost their lives while attempting to cross into South Africa illegally,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement late on Monday.
“This incident demonstrates the continued need for coordinated efforts from citizens and relevant government agencies to reduce the harm that human trafficking causes to our citizens,” read the statement.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) also expressed alarm over the incident, calling for urgent efforts to tackle “irregular migration including through a transnational response to smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons along the ‘Southern Route’, which runs from the Horn of Africa to Southern Africa.”
“Zambia is one of several countries of transit for thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa who travel along the Southern Route towards South Africa mainly in search of livelihood opportunities,” read an IOM statement released on Monday.
“Irregular migration along the route is facilitated by an intricate network of smugglers and traffickers and is fraught with extreme risk to life.”
The IOM pointed out that the incident in Zambia “comes less than two months after the bodies of 30 Ethiopian migrants were discovered in a mass grave in neighboring Malawi, and two years after 64 Ethiopian men were found dead, asphyxiated, in a sealed shipping container in Mozambique.”
More than 900 Ethiopians have died on migration routes since 2014, including this latest incident, the IOM said.
According to the UN, Africa is the second-deadliest region for migrants, with more than 9,000 deaths documented on the continent since 2014.