Addis Abeba – Zambian police said they have found the bodies of 27 men who are suspected to be Ethiopian national, “dumped” in a farming area on the outskirts of the capital, Zambian media reported. “Members of the public discovered 27 bodies in Ngwerere area, they alerted the police who rushed to the scene and found the 27 bodies with one gasping for life,” said Zambian Police deputy spokesperson, Danny Mwale.
The bodies are believed to be Ethiopian nationals and preliminary reports show they died from hunger and exhaustion. “Police and other security wings have since instituted investigations into the matter,” Mwale, is quoted by local media as saying. Victims were all males aged between 20 and 38. “Our preliminary investigations indicate that a total number of 28 persons, all males aged between 20 and 38, were dumped in Meanwood Nkhosi along Chiminuka road in Ngwerere area by unknown people,” according to a statement attributed to Zambian police.
One survivor was found “gasping for air” and has been rushed to a local hospital; the bodies of the 27 victims were taken to Zambia University Teaching Hospital mortuary, Mwale told the BBC.
The tragedy struck less than two months after Malawi police have discovered a mass grave containing the bodies of 25 migrants who are suspected to be Ethiopian nationals.
Tadikira Mafubza, the stepson of Malawi’s ex-President Peter Mutharika has been arrested suspected of links to the mass grave.
According to the IOM, the route, commonly known as the ‘Southern Route’, is mainly used by irregular migrants from Ethiopia and Somalia looking to find economic opportunities as far down as Cape Town. Hence, they have to travel through Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe or Mozambique before entering South Africa.
A new study released by IOM in May found the ‘Southern Route’ to be fraught with significant protection risks due to the long distance traveled, the multiple border crossings, the reliance on brokers and the switching of intermediaries along the way. AS