Hermínio José – Maputo & English Africa Service -Vatican City
In the early hours of Tuesday, this week, a container truck was stopped by Mozambique’s immigration authorities in the province of Tete. It carried 78 people, 64 of whom were found lifeless. They had died of asphyxiation, as they were inside a metal shipping container, with no ventilation.
Victims buried in Tete
The remains of the 64 illegal immigrants, were buried Wednesday, at a cemetery within the city of Tete, Mozambique. The Ethiopian embassy was said to have been in touch with the Tete provincial migration office.
The 64 Ethiopian victims are believed to have boarded the shipping container in Malawi headed for the Mozambican city of Tete. 14 persons were said to have survived the ordeal. It is not uncommon for illegal Ethiopian migrants to be smuggled to South Africa via Mozambique in such circumstances.
The 14 survivors were also screened for the deadly coronavirus and are now quarantined in the city of Tete.
Inhumane and senseless deaths
Speaking to Vatican News’ Portuguese Africa Service, the Bishop of Tete Diocese, Diamantino Guapo Antunes, I.M.C., described the tragic deaths as senseless and inhumane. He decried the fact that traffickers would transport human beings in such deplorable conditions. The young people who died, said Bishop Antunes, still had much to give to humankind.
Diocese will ensure assistance to survivors
In the meantime, the Bishop of Tete has said this diocese is coordinating with the Episcopal Commission for Migrants, Displaced People and Refugees-CEMIRDE, in assisting the 14 survivors.
Two Mozambicans have been arrested in connection with the deaths and human trafficking offences.