Tempted by traffickers’ promises of work in South Africa, which hosts the tournament this summer, an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 Ethiopians are sold abroad each year, according to the Ethiopian government. When added to smuggling from Somalia, the business is worth up to £26million a year, according to the International Organization for Migration. "Human traffickers use various tricks, including the deception that South Africa has created employment opportunities," said Zenebu Tadesse, Social Affairs Minister at a national conference on human trafficking and smuggling.
Alemu a 27-year-old businessman, left Eithiopia for South Africa in 2009 along with seven others. But he’s now living in a migrants' camp in Malawi. "I went to one of the secret evening presentations given by brokers in Hosaina town,” he told the United Nations news service, IRIN. "I decided that night to sell everything, close my small shop and travel to South Africa." "The broker told us the journey would be very easy," he added. "But one died from hunger as we travelled four days without food, another was allegedly shot dead by police around the border between Kenya and Tanzania."
Malawi police caught the group and took them to Dazleka refugee camp in Dowa. The camp just north of Malawi's capital Lilongwe, is one of the biggest for refugees from Ethiopia, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. About 400 Ethiopians were living there in September. "It took me almost a year to reach Malawi,” said Alemu. "The broker in Addis told us we would easily reach South Africa, but we were jailed in Tanzania for three months.” Each of the group had paid traffickers about £780 for the privilege. “We were duped,” he said. "I cannot reach South Africa now. I have nothing… nothing! I want to go back home. We are treated as terrorists as we steal maize and sugar cane from Malawian farmers."
Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Seyoum Mesfin says development strategies put in place by the government have helped it to curb poverty and backwardness, which are the main causes for illegal migration. People trafficking exposed victims to severe and complex problems, he told Nam News Network, adding that illegal traffickers exploited huge amounts of income by trafficking humans from place to place while citizens were severely suffering. Seyoum said too that trafficking also had psychological and socio-economic impact on families, the community and the country.
By Hayley Jarvis for SOS Children