IOM Assists Vulnerable Zimbabwean Migrants to Return Home Voluntarily
IOM is assisting a group of 56 vulnerable Zimbabweans stranded at
the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg to return home
Since IOM began providing return assistance in May 2009, IOM
missions in South Africa and Zimbabwe have assisted 151 persons,
including 76 adults and 20 infants and unaccompanied minors.
A significant number of migrants, mainly from Zimbabwe, started
seeking refuge at the Central Methodist Church when violent attacks
on foreign nationals erupted in May 2008. Since then, the
church has been a sanctuary for more than 1,000 stranded migrants
at a time, including minors. They are huddled in and around
the church, with poor ventilation, limited sleeping space, and
unhygienic conditions. A number of raids have been conducted
by the police, resulting in the arrest and detention of some of the
Two recent assessments conducted by IOM in Limpopo province,
where Zimbabwean migrants first arrive, indicate that they travel
to South Africa principally for economic reasons, particularly in
search of work.
Those who desire to return home are mainly pushed by economic
hardship and/or lack of accommodation in South Africa with some
feeling more optimistic about the economic situation in
Zimbabwe. Others are either keen to reunite with their family
or cite health problems as their reason for wishing to return.
"IOM's humanitarian return assistance is offered only to those
migrants who wish to return home voluntarily," explains Yukiko
Kumashiro, IOM Project Development Officer.
IOM's help to these Zimbabwean migrants, funded by the US State
Department's Bureau for Populations, Refugees and Migration (PRM),
includes fitness for travel health checks, arranging travel
documentation and transport, and providing nurses and escorts where
necessary. In Zimbabwe, IOM receives the migrants at the
point of arrival in Beitbridge and provides them with wet-feeding
and onward transportation to their home towns or villages.
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