IOM puts in place contingency plans to assist Zimbabwean deportees

22:17, January 11, 2011      

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The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is implementing contingency plans to deal with thousands of Zimbabweans who are likely to be deported from South Africa after failing to regularize their continued stay in that country.

An IOM spokesperson told Xinhua on Monday that the migration body, together with humanitarian partners and the Zimbabwean and South African governments, will provide humanitarian and protection assistance to vulnerable returnees, including unaccompanied minors.

"Under the plan, IOM with support from local and international organizations has prepositioned non-food items including tents and blankets at Reception and Support Centres at the Beitbridge and Plumtree border crossings in Zimbabwe," the spokesperson said.

Beitbridge is on the Zimbabwean border with South Africa to the south and although Plumtree is on the border with Botswana to the west, people travelling between Zimbabwe and South Africa, especially to areas such as Port Elizabeth, use Botswana because the route is shorter.

The South African government last year gave a moratorium to Zimbabwean immigrants illegally working and studying in that country to regularize their papers between September and Dec. 31, or risk being deported.

IOM also assisted registration efforts by providing material, equipment and staff to support a mobile registration center as well as working with a farm association in the Limpopo border area to identify communities and facilitate registration of Zimbabwean nationals.

However, it is estimated that only about a sixth of the estimated Zimbabwean irregular migrant population applied for legal status because of various challenges, including a backlog for processing passport applications in Zimbabwe.

"Nearly 276,000 Zimbabweans in the end registered for regularization through the campaign that began last September. However, there are an estimated 1.5 million Zimbabweans living in South Africa, many of whom migrated as a result of the social and economic unrest in Zimbabwe in recent years," IOM said.

Source: Xinhua
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