Smuggler truck carrying 26 migrants crashes in northern Ethiopia

TMP – 10/04/2017

A truck carrying 26 migrants, who were being smuggled from Ethiopia to Sudan, has crashed near the town of Humera in north-eastern Ethiopia, killing one and wounding others, several sources have confirmed.

The 18 men and 8 women onboard the truck were being smuggled from the Hitsats refugee camp in the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray.

The accident happened at 1:30 am on 15 March about three kilometers from the small town of Shemelba, which hosts one of the oldest camps for Eritrean refugees in the area.

One of the migrants was killed instantly during the accident, while 11 men and one woman suffered severe injuries and were taken to hospitals in Sheraro, Shire and Ayder. The remaining 14 passengers were returned to Histats refugee camp.

Complete details about the incident have not been released by the authorities yet, but the passengers have told refugee authorities that the smuggler had been drunk and was seen drinking more alcohol as he drove the truck. He quickly disappeared from the scene when the accident happened. His identity has not been disclosed yet.

The Ethiopian Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) has detained individuals at the refugee camp who were suspected of being the middle men for the smuggler.

Smugglers have been increasingly targeting desperate refugees in camps in the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray by promising to take them to Sudan and beyond on a journey to Europe.

Last month, a smuggler truck carrying 78 Eritrean migrants from camps in northern Ethiopia was involved in a tragic accident killing 51 passengers instantly, while another truck carrying the 27 wounded to the hospital overturned and 25 more of the passengers died.

The Ethiopian government has recently cracked down on human smuggling and trafficking by introducing a new law, which includes a possible death penalty for some trafficking crimes. As a result of the new law, dozens of smugglers have been convicted and sentenced to years in prison.