The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on Monday repatriated 23 out of the 56 Ethiopian children who were stuck at Kachere Juvenile Prison, in Lilongwe, since November last year, The Daily Times has learnt.
As of repatriation time through Kamuzu International Airport, we have noticed that the figure has increased from 40 in April to 56 this month.
The children, aged between 13 and 18 were arrested for illegal entry and lack of proper travelling documents.
They are suspected to be victims of trafficking and smuggling as they are mostly in transit to South Africa but it is not known what they wanted to do there.
It is believed that Malawi is a transit country for children and adults from other countries and people are illegally passing through on daily basis.
In April, the Malawi government failed to raise $16,000 (K10,854,000) which was required to send the then 40 children back home through air transport.
Chairperson for child case review board, Justice Fiona Mwale, has confirmed this development, saying IOM is facilitating the repatriation of the children.
“… 23 are leaving today (Monday) 26 leaving next week. Seven will remain until they can be processed and funds raised,” she said.
Malawi does not have transit shelters to keep illegal immigrants instead of prison as is done in other countries. This is why the children have been held at Kachere Prison for young offenders and other illegal immigrants are kept at various prisons in the country.
According to IOM website, one in seven Ethiopian migrants arrested in Malawi is a child.
It says, in six months (year 2015), 442 Ethiopian migrants were arrested in Malawi and 61 of them were children.
An estimated 20,000 migrants from Ethiopia risk their lives yearly trying to reach South Africa.
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