Tanzanian authorities are holding 63 illegal immigrants from Ethiopia who were seized in Njombe region, with about 40 others said to be on the run.
Police said that about 100 Ethiopian immigrants sneaked into Tanzania via Nairobi and Mombasa on their way to South Africa but the lorry they were travelling in was intercepted following an accident in the area over the Easter weekend.
Njombe Regional Police Commander Hamis Issah said that a Scania lorry ferrying the Ethiopians stalled after it was involved in an accident with a car and the immigrants escaped.
Njombe Regional Immigration Officer Vincent Haule confirmed the incident and said that 63 Ethiopians, who looked exhausted, were arrested from a hideout in a nearby farm, and that police were still searching for about other 40 escapees.
Mr Haule said that the Ethiopians sneaked into the country through the porous border between Tanzania and Kenya.
“These Ethiopian nationals travelled from Nairobi and Mombasa then entered Tanzania through Tanga. We have arrested 63 and we are searching for 40 who are still on the run,” he said.
Tanzania has been rated the leading entry point for illegal immigrants from Eastern Africa sneaking to Southern Africa states to seek economic fortunes.
South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia and Botswana are the final destinations for immigrants from the Horn of Africa.
There are 4,419 illegal immigrants in Tanzanian prisons whose maintenance costs the government about Tsh5.8 billion ($ 2.5 million) annually.
Daily food budget
The annual report of the Controller and Auditor-General (CAG) for the financial year ended June 30, 2022 that was submitted to the Tanzanian Parliament had indicated that the daily food budget stood at Tsh 5,000/- ($ 2.1) for each immigrant held in the country awaiting deportation.