Ethiopia detains 200 suspected human traffickers

An Ethiopian official says 200 human smugglers have been detained as part of the government’s efforts to stem the number of citizens illegally trying to migrate to Europe.

Ethiopian federal affairs minister Shiferaw Teklemariam told the Ethiopian News Agency late Sunday that the government is looking for 80 other human smugglers who are suspected of conducting overseas operations.

“The detentions are part of the government’s efforts to bring perpetrators to justice,” Teklemariam said.

He called on the youths to stop considering migrating as an option and promised to help create jobs back at home.

Along with neighbor Eritrea, Ethiopia is the source of many of the migrants making the perilous journey by sea to Europe, often via Sudan and then Libya.

Ethiopia is drafting a new law to stiffen punishments for human trafficking in an attempt to stem a wave of dangerous migrations to Europe, the Ministry of Justice said.

Ethiopia’s current laws stipulate prison terms ranging from five to 20 years for crimes related to human smuggling and a maximum fine of $2,500.