Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control-DCIC has deported five Ethiopians who were a fortnight ago arrested trafficked into Uganda by a Kenyan national. The five were intercepted at Entebbe Airport after they failed to explain how they had entered Uganda since DCIC had no reccords of their entry.
DCIC team at the airport alerted Aviation Police which arrested the Ethiopians since even their travel documents had several gaps among others their uncoordinated destination and purpose of travel. Upon interrogation, the Ethiopians revealed that they had been trafficked from their home country via Kenya and were heading to Beirut in Lebanon.
Unfortunately, the victims could not recall where their trafficker had been left. He disappeared from them after giving them their passports and air tickets, and securing a van that dropped them at the Airport.
Aviation Police transferred the victims to Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) headquarters in Kibuli where they have been housed for over a fortnight until a day ago when they were deported with the help of the Ethiopian Embassy in Kenya.
Agnes Igoye, the deputy national coordinator trafficking in person department under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, confirmed that the Ethiopians have successfully been put on a plane back to Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia.
Igoye said the embassy in Kampala ensured that before they are deported, their relatives in Ethiopia are aware and waiting for them. A team was also prepared in Addis Ababa to receive the trafficked victims and have them immediately reunited with their family members.
However, Igoye said they have noticed that Kenya and Uganda are being used as transit routes. She said there is a group of Kenyans trafficking Ethiopians from their country, prepares for them travel documents and then uses porous borders to smuggle them into Uganda with the aim of trafficking them to the Middle East.
“We have seen an influx of Ethiopians being trafficked through Kenya”, Igoye said. “We have intercepted some of them at the borders. DCIC has alerted Kenyan authorities about this crime of trafficking people using their country as a transit route.”
Simon Peter Mundeyi, the spokesperson for Ministry of Internal Affairs had earlier indicated that 55 foreigners had been arrested for illegally living in the country. Mundeyi said the people who were arrested working in factories and supermarkets had no documents explaining how they came into Uganda.
The arrest of illegal citizens was conducted by DCIC with the help of police and military spy agencies. This was the third operation since two others had been carried out in June and May resulting in the arrest of over 60 illegal foreigners. According to Mundeyi, some of the foreigners legally came into the country as visitors but chose to stay without upgrading their status.
Igoye adds that Ethiopians, Kenyans, Congolese and Burundians who have been trafficked into Uganda are promised jobs in Kampala and other urban areas. Others are told that they would stay in Uganda briefly and then would be taken for jobs abroad.
“Whoever helps in transporting or housing trafficked people will face the same penalty like those who picked them from their countries,” Igoye warned. “Why would you keep a person who has come from Ethiopia and is going to Beirut? Why can’t you ask why they didn’t travel to Beirut from their country?”
DCIC has also offloaded 20 Ugandans heading to among other countries, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Lebanon on visit visas. DCIC team on the weekend became suspicious as the offloaded persons had no idea who they were going to visit.
Igoye says most of the girls who have cried foul in the Arab world were trafficked on visit visas. She encourages people to always be careful and question once the alleged labour exporter presents them with a visit visa. The deportation Ethiopians come on the heels of ongoing efforts to have a Kawempe woman who was sold to an Iraqi man for marriage in October last year brought back.