The Somali government has expressed concern over mass arrests of Somali nationals in Zambia following operations by Zambian security forces in Ndola town.
In a statement, Somali ministry for foreign affairs said it was following up the matter with Zambian authorities for clarification on the arrests.
“MFA is closely monitoring alleged reports of mass arrests of Somalis in Ndola, Zambia, based on their ethnicity, irrespective of nationality, is a cause of concern and presently engaging authorities in Zambia for clarity and resolving this unfortunate event expeditiously,” the Ministry said in a tweet.
According to multiple sources, the operations by Zambian forces nabbed more than 500 Somalia under unclear circumstances.
The detainees included men, women and children were taken in buses to a stadium in the Copperbelt region of Ndola in north-central part of Zambia.
Almost of them were later released after their documents were checked by security officials.
Only 40 people remained in police custody and Zambian authorities have not yet commented on the motive behind the operations.
Meanwhile, the Department of Immigration in Vubwi District apprehended forty-three (43) Ethiopian nationals in a suspected case of human smuggling. This was in a Department of Immigration-led operation conducted on 24th October, 2021 in collaboration with other security wings. The team was responding to a tip-off from concerned residents of Songela area in Vubwi who spotted a group of Ethiopians moving aimlessly through Khondwani village asking for food and water.
Ten (10) of the Ethiopians who where in the company of Three (03) Zambians Gift Sakala (34) of Katete, Rodgers Sakala (30) of Chadiza and John Mumba (41) of Lusaka, were apprehended at Chekananji farm in Khondwani village while thirty-three (33) other Ethiopians were nabbed in the hills of Chekananji village. The Forty-three (43) Ethiopians and three (03) Zambians were transferred to Chipata Central Police Station, pending further investigations.
Meanwhile, a joint team of Officers from the Chadiza Immigration Office and the Police on 24th and 25th October, 2021 intercepted five (05) other Ethiopians who are believed to have been in the same group as the Forty-Three (43) apprehended in Vubwi District. They were intercepted around Namandevu area, 50 km from Chadiza aboard a Hino Truck and Two (02) taxis. It is believed that there were more Ethiopians on the Three (03) vehicles but they managed to escape. The three (03) drivers of the vehicles Chazanga Phiri, Frank Chikwenda Phiri and Lazarus Phiri, all Zambians, were also nabbed and they together with the Five (05) Ethiopians are detained at Namuseche Correctional Facility Pending further investigations.
Preliminary investigations into the two incidents suggest that the Ethiopians entered the country from Malawi and were handed over to another group of suspected smugglers around Kamwendo area in Malawi, 30km from Mwami Border. They used the Nsimbi-Chigwe Road to Vubwi with the view to passing through Chadiza but one of the Four (04) vehicles they were using developed a mechanical fault prompting the affected group to abandon the vehicle and head for the mountains, with the rest proceeded to Chadiza, where five (05) were apprehended.
This brings the number of Ethiopians apprehended in similar circumstances in less than two (02) weeks to Eighty-Eight (88) with Forty (40) apprehended by the Katete Immigration Office in Taulo Village in Katete aboard a Toyota Granvia and Toyota Grand Hiace on 15th October, 2021. The Zambian drivers Funiel Banda (29) and Mathias Phiri (35) were also apprehended. The drivers were found with K 31,704 believed to be proceeds of crime. The forty (40) Ethiopians have since been charged with the offence of unlawful entry while the two (02) drivers have been charged with the offences of harbouring prohibited immigrants, facilitating the remaining in Zambia of prohibited immigrants, and receiving property into Zambia from unknown persons. They will all appear in court soon. It also brings the number of persons apprehended for various Immigration Offences between 15th and 27th October, 2021 to Four Hundred and Thirty-Three (433).
During this same period the Department also removed One Hundred and Thirty-Four (134) illegal immigrants from the country, secured Ninety-Eight (98) convictions and refused Fifteen (15) foreign nationals entry into Zambia for failing to meet entry requirements.
The Department appreciates the strong collaboration that exits with other security wings without which it would have been very difficult to undertake successful operations such as the ones which led to the arrest of Eighty-Eight (88) Ethiopians in Eastern Province. We also wish to thank members of the community for their continued support and partnership in the Department’s quest to rid the country of illegal immigrants. Further, the Department wishes to advise motor vehicle owners to warn drivers of these vehicles to desist from using the vehicles for trafficking or smuggling human beings as they risk losing them to the state. Same applies to landlords whose properties are used in the commission of these crimes.