At least 64 Ethiopian migrants are believed to have died of suffocation in a container that was being transported from Malawi to Moatize District, Tete Province, Mozambique Tuesday.
Police in Mozambique intercepted the truck that transported the migrants at around 2 o’clock in the morning.
A local publication in Mozambique reported that when stopped for inspection, the driver lied that he was transporting goods.
However, the answer did not convince the police who later demanded him to open the container.
“The driver obeyed and only to find that out of the 78 immigrants, only 14 were still alive,” the report states.
The driver was reported to have feigned ignorance on the number of people he was carrying in the container.
“In exchange for 30,000 meticais, I was asked to transport 25 people to Moatize,” said the driver, who alleged that he was approached by a guide for illegal immigrants in Malawi.
Details of the guide are yet to be known as the police, migration and health departments are still investigating the issue.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has described the death of the 64 migrants as a tragedy.
UNODC National Programme Officer, Maxwel l Mat ewer e , said this should serve as a warning to African countries.
He said there is need for African countries to strive to curb such malpractices.
“Africa should expect more migration to South Africa in search of greener pastures since European nations have tightened their border security in response to coronavirus,” he said.
Malawi’s Mwanza Immigration deputy spokesperson, Pasqually Zulu, said his counterparts in Mozambique had informed him about the tragedy but he was waiting for official communication.