Forum Responds to Cross Border Migration Challenges between South Africa and Zimbabwe

Forum Responds to Cross Border Migration Challenges between South Africa and Zimbabwe

IOM South Africa facilitated convening the Cross Border Migration Management Stakeholder Forum between Zimbabwe and South Africa on the 20th February 2013 at the border town of Musina.

The bi-monthly forum established in February 2012 and co-chaired by the Zimbabwe Department of Immigration and Control and the South Africa Department of Home Affairs Immigration Service brings together Departments of Social Development and Law Enforcement Agencies to engage in seeking sustainable solutions to irregular migration challenges between the two countries.

Musina is the point of entry for most irregular migrants from Zimbabwe into South Africa. South Africa is also the preferred destination for various categories of migrants with more and more Zimbabweans travelling to South Africa to seek opportunities and better livelihoods.

The 2009 IOM study, “In Pursuit of the Southern Dream: Victims of Necessity, Assessment of the Irregular Move of Men from East Africa and the Horn to South Africa” found that while most migrants may not be vulnerable when they start their journey, they become vulnerable at a later stage for various reasons. In some cases, migrants are robbed, raped, exploited, abandoned, left in a vulnerable state with no documentation or means to continue their journey. This applies specifically to the growing number of unaccompanied minors, sexual and gender based violence and high prevalence of communicable diseases such as HIV and AIDS.

The IOM office in Musina has over the years remained engaged with both governments to seek adequate responses to these irregular migration challenges in the Musina/Beitbridge border area.

“Addressing irregular migration challenges between Zimbabwe and South Africa requires improved inter-governmental/interdepartmental and inter-agency coordination between the two countries and as IOM we remain committed to engage both governments to seek adequate and sustainable responses ,” says IOM South Africa Acting Chief of Mission Dr. Erick Ventura.

Since inception, the forum has successfully addressed issues related to the rights of returned migrants including protection cases of the vulnerable migrants being victims of sexual and gender based violence and unaccompanied minors. The forum also aims to minimise irregular migration, smuggling and human trafficking through awareness raising campaigns human trafficking and safe migration.

Collaboration between the two governments and harmonized migration management policies is a critical priority. The forum continues to provide an oversight and monitoring function to ensure humane return of irregular migrants to Zimbabwe and ensure adherence to the Department of Home Affairs Standard Operating Procedures on deportation.

There is a need to address irregular migration flows at a regional level. IOM continues to facilitate dialogue and enhance cooperation between SADC member states to manage migration effectively through the Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa (MIDSA) regional consultation process.