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Authorities repatriate 147 Ethiopian illegal immigrants

The 147 comprise 145 men and 2 women who were serving various jail sentences in various Zambian correctional facilities.

Zambia's President Edgar Lungu speaks at a rally in the capital Lusaka, Zambia January 19, 2015.

The Ethiopians were repatriated back to their country on Thursday afternoon after they were pardoned by Zambian President Edgar Lungu in December last year.

They were repatriated under an assisted voluntary return program by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) through the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka, the Zambian capital, according to a statement released by the Immigration Department.

Among those deported were 145 men and two women.

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The 147 former Ethiopian convicts who were recently pardoned by President Edgar Lungu have successfully been repatriated to their home country.

The 147 comprise 145 men and 2 women who were serving various jail sentences in various Zambian correctional facilities across the country from 2011.

And International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Zambia Communications Focal Point Officer, Bertha Nguvulu explained that the 147 were repatriated under the IOM Assisted Voluntary Repatriation (AVR) exercise.

The excited former Ethiopian prisoners departed at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport aboard a ET863 Ethiopian plane at about 13:35 hours.

Nguvulu said the repatriation exercise cost about $150,000 and follows the joint agreement between the governments of Zambia and Ethiopia.

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And the former Ethiopian convicts praised President Edgar Lungu, Minister of Home Affairs Steven Kampyongo and the Zambia Correctional Services (ZCS) Commissioner General Percy Chato for attaching great importance to the welfare of prisoners in the country.

In a joint interview with ZANIS at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, Biruk Alemu 35 and Abudulahi Debiso 25 said the Zambia Correctional Facilities have taught them how to love humanity.

The two said while in prison, they learnt to love God and respect the rule of law and expressed hope that they will be received with love in their home country.

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