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Zimbabwe has arrested a Kenyan believed to be a ring leader of a human trafficking syndicate who tried to smuggle 12 Somalis to neighbouring South Africa.
A senior immigration officer, Mr Evans Siziba told the state media, the 12 Somalis were arrested in the resort town of Kariba after they crossed the Zambezi River using canoes.
The Kenyan national was arrested in Harare last Thursday.
“He was arrested at our headquarters trying to assist 12 Somalis who had been intercepted in Kariba. The ages of the 12 range from 16 to 35 years," Siziba said.
Human traffickers take advantage of Zimbabwe’s porous borders to transport people from war-torn African countries to to selected countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the is peace.
There are fears that thousands of people end up being trapped in slavery and prostitution rings once they enter the targeted countries.
A United States department report released on Monday lists Zimbabwe among 13 countries - including Iran, North Korea, Burma and Cuba – that have failed to meet minimum international standards in the fight against human trafficking.
Countries covered in the 10 annual global human trafficking report were placed in three categories, according to anti-trafficking performance.
Zimbabwe, Burma, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Kuwait, Mauritania, North Korea, Papua-New Guinea, Saudi Arabia and Sudan remain in the last tier.
Somalia remained a special case for an eighth consecutive year due to the lack of a central government since 1991.
“Control of its geographic area is divided among the self-declared independent Republic of Somaliland, the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, and the remainder of the country nominally under the control of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG),” the report said.
“Somalia currently lacks a national governing structure that could assume responsibility for addressing the country’s human trafficking problem.”
Zimbabwe has a sizeable number of Somali refugees.