25 Jan Tanzania pardons over 1,700 jailed Ethiopian migrants
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania
Tanzania on Monday pardoned hundreds of convicted migrants from Ethiopia who sneaked into the country on their way to South Africa on different occasions.
Speaking to reporters after talks with his Ethiopian counterpart Sahle-Work Zewde during her one-day visit to Tanzania on Monday at the state lodge in Chato, northern Tanzania, Tanzanian President John Magufuli said a total of 1,789 Ethiopians will be pardoned as a goodwill gesture to strengthen bilateral ties.
“We have about 1,789 prisoners who illegally entered our country from Ethiopia. They will be released unconditionally,” said Magufuli.
The east African country has for decades intercepted illegal immigrants from Ethiopia and Somalia who crossed into the country illegally on their way to South Africa.
Tanzania is a major transit route for migrants, used by human traffickers to ferry Ethiopians and Somalis to South Africa and Europe.
In December last year, officials from Tanzania’s Ministry of Home Affairs said the migrants, mostly young people in their early 20’s, often pay traffickers about $1,000 to $2,000 to reach South Africa. Some traffickers have safe houses and contacts in Tanzania and Malawi where the migrants are kept on transit before reaching their final destinations, the officials said.
According to President Magufuli the visit is aimed at consolidating the existing diplomatic relations between Tanzania and Ethiopia through exploring new areas of cooperation, including trade and investment.
“I have requested the Ethiopian president to let Tanzanian investors in the livestock sector to invest in Ethiopia and learn from their counterparts,” he said.
On her part, President Sahle-Work Zewde said she had come to congratulate the president on his re-election and they have agreed to establish cooperation in new areas of trade and investment.
Earlier, Tanzania Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Palamagamba Kabudi told reporters in northern Chato district that Tanzania will seize the opportunity to promote leather industry as well as woo investors from Ethiopia to bolster the sector.