Madonna funds repatriation of Ethiopian children
American Pop star, Louise Ciccone, popularly known as Madonna, through her organisation Raising Malawi, funded the repatriation of the 53 Ethiopian boy children who were stuck at Kachere Juvenile Prison in Lilongwe since November 2015, The Daily Times has learnt.
Through her instagram page, Madonna posted a picture of the Ethiopian boys walking into Kamuzu International Airport building carrying International Organisation of Migration (IOM) white thick plastic bags.
“53 Ethiopian boys were detained and imprisoned since November from travelling through Malawi without Visas. Thanks to IOM and the financial assistance of @raisingmalawi and the co-operation of the Malawian government. They are heading home this week….can I get an AMEN??? Thanks to everyone who helped,” she said in the post which shows to have been done a week ago.
The children aged between 12 and 17 were arrested in November last year for entering Malawi illegally and without proper travelling documents.
They were suspected to be victims of trafficking and smuggling as they were mostly in transit to South Africa but it is not clearly known what they wanted to do there.
Malawi is believed to be a transit country for children and adults from other countries and people are illegally passing through on a daily basis.
Chairperson for Child Case Review Board, Justice Fiona Mwale, said she is aware that the Ethiopian children have been repatriated.
“But I don’t know much about the funding issues and the amount that was used,” Mwale said.
IOM website states that the organisation facilitated the repatriation with financial assistance from a ‘US foundation’ in partnership with the US Internat ional Associat ion for International Migration (USAIM), and in coordination with the governments of Ethiopia and Malawi.
According to information sourced from its website, USAIM is IOM’s partner organisation. Its mission is to broaden public awareness and mobilise private sector resources in support of domestic and international programmes that provide assistance to migrants and refugees.
Even though IOM published people to contact for more information, one of the contacts, Mpilo Nkomo, refused to give information on the issue and was very irritated with the questions about Madonna’s financial assistance.
“I’m not in a position to share this information with you…I’m not even going to refer you to anyone within this organisation to talk to you. I don’t even know if you are a credible journalist or not. I will only talk to you when you present government clearance that you have been referred to talk to me on this issue,” said the vividly bothered Mpilo.
A month ago, well-placed sources told The Daily Times that Madonna initially wanted to remain an anonymous donor.
However, we are aware that the children needed over K15 million to be repatriated back home.
Madonna has demonstrated special interest in Malawian children and she has done several charity programmes in Malawi including health, education and community support. She established Raising Malawi in 2006 and she also adopted two children from Malawi, David Banda and Mercy James.
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