Mozambique immigration officials have arrested 29 Somali migrants who were heading to South Africa to escape the escalating violence in their homeland. Police officers said the fleeing party who claimed to be refugees was seized last Sunday in two minibuses.
Ernesto Serote, police spokesperson in Zambezia province, said one of the vehicles was driven by an off-duty police officer.
Mozambique is increasingly becoming a transit point for illegal immigrants to gain entry into South Africa, said Serote.
At least 17 000 illegal migrants from the Horn of Africa flee to South Africa annually. Most of them transit through Kenya, according to the International Organization for Migration’s report in February.
The organization said crisis and poverty were forcing Somalis and Ethiopians to carry out dangerous journeys to better places. South Africa has deported a total of 678 697 illegal immigrants between 2002 and 2005.
Pic: Flag of South Africa