Helping Zimbabwe’s most vulnerable

BY NICOLA SIMMONDS

International Organization for Migration has launched a massive multi-media campaign in Zimbabwe, aimed at reducing the risks of potential migrants and informing on the dangers of irregular migration and HIV prevention.

A first for Zimbabwe in many ways, The Safe J

ourney campaign will use television, film, radio, print, billboards, bumper stickers and a website, and has the support of many of the country’s biggest musical stars, including Oliver Mutukudzi, Pastor G, Chiwoniso, Plaxedes and others, all of whom contributed to a musical album entitled “Famba Zvakanaka/Hamba Kahle/Safe Journey”. The lead song on the album, which goes by the same name, comprises a harmony of all the contributing artists – a kind of Zimbabwean version of “We Are the World”. “This is a hugely important campaign for Zimbabwe and will reach out to some of the most vulnerable groups in the country,” said IOM’s Chief of Mission in Zimbabwe, Mr Mohamed Abdiker. “With a special focus on mobile populations such as truck drivers, cross border traders, families and individuals in search of work, the Safe Journey campaign will give critical information on what documents are needed and how to avoid the grave dangers of irregular migration.” In partnership with the Home Affairs Ministry and with the support of other Government Departments, and funded by the UK’s Department of International Development, the Safe Migration Campaign will focus on border towns and transit routes in particular, but aims to reach all potential migrants. “No one is denying the challenges facing Zimbabweans,” said Mr Mohammed Abdiker, Chief of Mission of IOM Harare “but irregular migration puts people – often women and children – at greater risk. Low or no pay, sexual abuse and human trafficking are just some of the risks IOM wants to combat. This campaign will give people the information they need to make an informed choices and to ensure their actions improve their life, not endanger it.” In its first phase, the Safe Journey campaign runs for six months, and with additional funding, a second phase will focus on communities, with interventions in schools, universities, rural areas and permanent drop-in centres in border towns and main cities. Migration is a natural phenomenon and when done correctly, can serve to benefit all. Irregular migration is when people live or work abroad without correct documentation, or when they partake in activities, which are not permitted on their visa. Undocumented migrants may face exploitation in the workplace, through low or no pay, little or no access to health care, lack of legal rights, and the risk of falling prey to human trafficking schemes, the sex trade and HIV infection. If caught, irregular migrants may face deportation. Currently 2,000 irregular migrants a week are deported from South Africa into Zimbabwe through the Beitbridge border post. The Safe Journey Campaign will put Zimbabweans in the picture with regard to what documentation is required, will raise awareness that funds are needed for safe travel, and that although some have found success in distant lands, others put themselves and their families at greater risk through irregular migration.

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