Agency assists Zimbabwe migrants in South Africa to return home

iomThe International Organisation for Migrants (IOM) has launched a project to help Zimbabwean migrants and communities affected by mass displacement to return home.

The project anticipates the potential return of large numbers of Zimbabweans in South Africa, including forced returns of undocumented migrants, following the recent announcement by the government of South Africa of a regularisation campaign for Zimbabweans in that country.

Under the new regulations, only migrants with a valid Zimbabwean passport who are studying, working, or owners of businesses, are eligible to apply for a residency permit. Since 2000, Zimbabwe has experienced increasing levels of internal and external migration – including the large scale exodus of Zimbabwean professionals to countries in the region and abroad – as a result of the changing socio-economic situation.

The exact number of Zimbabweans in South Africa is unknown but is estimated to be between one and 1.5 million. The IOM project will improve coordination of services addressing mass displacement and returns, by establishing a centralised information management system and providing a forum for the exchange and dissemination of information. IOM will also assist in implementing an early warning system for new displacements and strengthening inter-agency contingency planning for the anticipated mass return of Zimbabweans from South Africa.

As part of the initiative, funded by the European Commission for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), a gap analysis is being conducted in close coordination with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), mapping the capacity of different agencies to provide assistance to displaced Zimbabwean migrants.

Since 2003, IOM has taken a lead role in responding to the humanitarian assistance needs of Zimbabwean migrants and IDPs with service centres at the key border posts of Beitbridge (Zimbabwe/South Africa) and Plumtree (Zimbabwe/Botswana).

The ECHO funded project will support ongoing IOM work with governmental and non-governmental partners to ensure access and assistance to IDPs, returned migrants as well as affected communities. IOM

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