3 February 2011

Mozambique: Illegal Immigrants Asphyxiated in Container

Maputo — Eight illegal Somali migrants have died of asphyxiation in the back of a container truck that was carrying them through the central Mozambican province of Zambezia, according to a report on Radio Mozambique.

The Somalis were found when police stopped the truck and opened the container on Wednesday, in the district of Mocuba. The 40 foot container was supposed to be full of cooking oil, and it did indeed contain 850 containers each holding 20 litres of oil.

But among all the oil, there were also 24 Somalis crammed into the truck. They had travelled from the neighbouring province of Nampula under these atrocious condition, and eight paid with their lives.

The survivors were taken to Mocuba Rural Hospital, where 13 were discharged later in the day. The driver of the truck has been arrested.

A continual stream of Somali and Ethiopian refugees enters northern Mozambique, and most are believed to be on their way to South Africa. In the last few weeks, the police have detained hundreds of these migrants, but have not halted the flow.

Some migrants are sent back across the borders, while those who claim refugee status are sent to the Maratane refugee camp in Nampula. But it is easy for migrants to slip away from Maratane, and the authorities say that over 6,000 Somalis and Ethiopians left the camp in 2010

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