The recent discovery of 27 bodies of Ethiopians in Lusaka has continued to attract widespread debate particularly about the need for strict border controls.
This debate has rightly centred on the country’s security, especially border controls and what the authorities are doing about it.
We thus agree with Mr Gastone Sichilima, a former deputy minister of Home Affairs for intensified patrols around the country’s border posts.
That so many Ethiopians could reach the country’s hinterland undetected and only be betrayed by the cold hand of death is mind boggling.
It is likely that from which ever direction the Ethiopians entered the country, they were able to elude the country’s security and immigration authorities and be able to get to Lusaka.
That Zambia is a major transition point for illegal immigrants from countries around the Horn of Africa is a fact.
Their final destination is South Africa, Africa’s largest economy that continues to lure desperate immigrants in search of a bright future.
But even as illegal immigrnats try to get to South Africa through Zambia, it is important that border security be enhanced to make it hard for anyone to attempt to come through illegally.
As noted by Mr Sichilima, most illegal immigrants use unconventional routes which must be closed by the government.
Although this is a mammoth task for the government, considering that Zambia is a land-linked country making it hard to police every inch, there should be obvious routes that should be under watch nonstop.
If anything, there should be strengthened coordination with countries facing a similar problem like Malawi and Tanzania, which are also major transition centres.
It is not right that so many Ethiopians could lose their lives when their deaths could have been avoided had there been tight security.
These are people who are moved about by human traffickers and mostly make use of international truckers with containers
What must be explained also is how such a large group could have escaped the many security checkpoints along the major roads – Great North Road and Great East Road.
Since illegal migration is an international problem, the government must also engage the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
Established in 1951, the IOM is the leading intergovernmental organisation in the field of migration and is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. IOM is part of the United Nations system, as a related organisation.
IOM supports migrants across the world, developing effective responses to the shifting dynamics of migration and, as such, is a key source of advice on migration policy and practice.
The organisation works in emergency situations, developing the resilience of all people on the move, and particularly those in situations of vulnerability, as well as building capacity within governments to manage all forms and impacts of mobility.
The organisation is guided by the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, including upholding human rights for all. Respect for the rights, dignity and well-being of migrants remains paramount.
However, human traffickers have no regard for such noble principles and should thus be stopped in their tracks through strict checks along the country’s borders. The 27 dead Ethiopians should nab the nation’s conscience into action and say no to human trafficking.