Four more bodies of suspected illegal migrants from Ethiopia have been found near the site of a mass grave in northern Malawi that contained the remains of 25 Ethiopian nationals, according to police in the southern African country.
Malawi police spokesman Peter Kalaya said the Ethiopians were suspected victims of human trafficking. The four bodies were discovered a day after the corpses of 25 Ethiopian migrants were exhumed from a mass grave in northern Malawi’s Mzimba district. The 25 victims were males aged between 25 and 40 years, police found.
In a Thursday update, Kalaya said: “The (newly-discovered) bodies were found … in a decomposed state on the ground about a kilometer from a mass grave where 25 other bodies were exhumed on Wednesday within Mtangatanga Forest Reserve.”
He added that an autopsy was being performed on the victims to determine the cause of death.
Kalaya told CNN on Friday that some arrests have been made.
“Seventy-two Ethiopians have been arrested for ‘illegal entry’ which contravenes Malawi’s Immigration laws (and) ten Malawians have been arrested because we suspect they were aiding these illegal migrants through Malawi,” the police spokesman said.
Malawi has increasingly become a popular route for syndicates who smuggle undocumented migrants, mainly from the Horn of Africa, through the southern African country, with the aim of reaching South Africa, according to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
“We intercept illegal migrants now and again in the country,” Kalaya told CNN of the Malawi government’s crackdown on illegal migrants, stating that many of those intercepted are Ethiopians and Somalians.
More than 200 illegal migrants were intercepted in the last eight months, he stated, adding that 186 of them were Ethiopian nationals.
Last year, more than 100 Ethiopians were returned to their country “after being found stranded in the borders of Malawi”, the country’s immigration service said at the time.
In 2012, nearly 50 migrants from Ethiopia lost their lives when their boat capsized while crossing Lake Malawi.