IOM assists 280 Zims to return safely

Since 1999 the UK section of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has been assisting asylum seekers and irregular migrants to return to their countries of origin. Out of the 18,000 people that IOM UK has assisted over the years, approximately 280 have been Zimbabwean. Once back in Z

imbabwe, many get help through IOM to start up businesses or to fund training courses.

Ms. M is a young Zimbabwean woman still in the UK who has asked IOM to help her return to Harare. She has been in the UK since 2002 and has found life very difficult since her asylum case was rejected. Not being able to work, she has had to rely on friends to support her. Also, her grandmother who is caring for her two young brothers in Zimbabwe has suddenly fallen ill. This has made her take the final decision to return to Zimbabwe. Although she is worried about returning, she believes that the well-being of her brothers is more important. To support herself back in Zimbabwe she has asked IOM to assist her with setting up a hairdressing salon.

UK-based Zimbabwean groups have expressed concerns about the security of returnees. IOM Zimbabwe believes many of these concerns result from misinformation, although they admit that the current economic climate is difficult.
“It is essential that businesses diversify and offer a range of products or services to meet constantly shifting patterns of demand,” explained a spokesman for the organisation.

“The reintegration assistance of £3,000 per family member does give returnees a good starting point,” he added. “While it does not fully support the returnees or make them rich it does enable them to start something which generates income to sustain their families.”

One example of a successful return is Mr. DM who has managed to set up a small recording studio through the assistance of IOM. A new wave of music known as “Urban Grooves” has transformed Zimbabwe’s music industry and this genre is a strong focus for Mr. DM. One of the tracks recorded by a local artist has managed to climb into the Zimbabwe top 40 charts. Mr. Other Zimbabweans have been helped to set up businesses such as grocery shops, hairdressing salons and take-away restaurants.

Marek Effendowicz, Communications Manager of IOM London, sees the need to stress the voluntary nature of the IOM return programmes: “Some people have the impression that nobody who comes to the UK would ever want to return to their home countries. The truth is that we have people contacting us every day wanting to return. The assistance that we provide cannot solve all problems for a returnee, but definitely does make a difference to people’s lives.” – For further information about IOM and voluntary return, see or call the freephone number 0800 783 2332.

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