Sunday, October 25, 2015
Thursday, October 15, 2015
DEDZA, Malawi--The dream of a new life in South Africa has turned into a nightmare for hundreds of Ethiopian migrants held in overcrowded Malawian jails despite having served their sentences for illegal entry.
"The journey has ended here and I just want to go back hom
Some of the 200 Ethiopian nationals detained in Maula Prison for illegal immigration sit on the floor of the prison in Lilongwe, Malawi, on June 1. (AFP)
Prisons spokesman Evance Phiri told AFP the inmates were held even after they had paid their fines or finished their sentences because of a lack of funds to send them home.
While recent concern over migrants has focused on Europe, Malawi says there has been a sharp rise in Ethiopians, Somalis and other Africans using the impoverished country as a transit route to seek work in South Africa.
Eyasu was in a group of 29 Ethiopians arrested in July as they tried to make their way south. He says he and five others paid US$62 fines for illegal entry, but remain in prison.
The others were sentenced to six months in jail.
A senior prison official, who did not want to be named, said the facility holds 380 inmates although it was designed to house just 100.
"We face a lot of challenges, mostly lack of food," the official said.
"We serve them one meal a day at 3 p.m., mostly a thick porridge with beans. They sleep up to 50 people in a cell meant for 20 inmates."