By Daily Mail Reporter – 24th July 2009 — Three African exchange students have vanished during a trip to the Houses of Parliament.The three Ethiopian men were among a group of nine visitors who were staying with families in Hartlepool as part of a three-month visit to the UK.
But at the end of a day’s tour in the Houses of Commons and Lords, the trio failed to turn up and organisers Global Xchange were forced to report them missing.
Police and Home Office chiefs are now investigating their disappearance.
Organisers say their main concern is for the safety of the men, who have been named as Zerihun Weldeyohans, 24, Habtamu Debela, 27, and 21-year-old Muluneh Tilahun Abera.
They had left the rest of the group to buy telephone calling cards at around 6pm, but did not rejoin their group or return to their London hotel.
Concerns grew when they failed to turn up for the 11am journey to Hartlepool the following morning.
All have valid visas which run until September 9. The Global Xchange programme involves 18 volunteers, nine from the UK and nine from Ethiopia, living in Hartlepool while working for community organisations.
Zerihun is based at Cafe 177 and Headline Futures, Habtamu at the West View Project, while Muluneh has been working at Hartlepool United’s study support centre.
A statement released by the organisers said the men went missing on July 15.
It read: ‘All three are male and aged between 21 and 24. The group had been on a trip to London to visit the Houses of Parliament.
‘After the visit some of the group were socialising at the South Bank Centre but the three young men went their separate ways to purchase some telephone calling cards.’
It continued: ‘The young men have not made any contact with British Council, VSO or their project supervisors in Hartlepool and the primary concern is for their safety as they were on their first visit to London.
‘The police have been informed and are treating this as a missing persons case. The police have undertaken standard inquiries to establish the location and safety of the young men.
‘The programme is due to run until August 31, and the young people had not indicated that they intended to resign from the group. All three are in possession of valid visas and return flights.’
A spokesman for the Home Office said they would become involved if the men stayed in the country longer than their visa allowed.