Press Release - IOM Facilitates assistance to Zimbabweans in South Africa stranded by COVID-19 related National Lockdown

Pretoria, 6 May 2020 – Following the first case of COVID-19 reported in South Africa on 5 March 2020, the Government declared a State of National Disaster, followed by a nationwide lockdown announcement on 26 March 2020. Nearly a month and a half into the ongoing lockdown, and at a current total of 8,232 COVID-19 reported cases, with 161 deaths and 3,153 recoveries (7 May 2020), the Government of South Africa gradually established socio-economic mechanisms to alleviate the brunt of the lockdown modalities on the various vulnerable demographics in the nation.

South Africa is currently home to approximately 4.2 million migrants from the region. Additionally, there are estimated to be about 300,000 refugees in the country. The nationwide lockdown has resulted in huge socio-economic impacts and social protection needs in the country, with considerable impact on the vulnerable populations including migrants. The latter, who mainly operate in the informal sectors and depend on daily income, are gravely affected by the lockdown and are no longer able to meet their needs in the areas of food security, shelter, access to health services and other protection assistance in this crisis.

While some migrant communities have resorted to reaching out to their respective Embassies in South Africa to be facilitated to return to their countries of origin, Many have found themselves stranded and in dire need of sustenance assistance while remaining in South Africa.

“We were approached by the Embassy of Zimbabwe in South Africa, and a couple of Zimbabwean investors in South Africa, to facilitate fundraising and provision of key services to the Zimbabweans currently unable to cope with the socio-economic effects of the ongoing national lockdown”, said Ms.Lily Sanya, Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in South Africa.

Through a collaborative approach, IOM, the Embassy of Zimbabwe in South Africa, Neville Holdings pty Ltd, Albera Logistics, Msport Management and AlbShaun Transport, seek to respond to the most urgent needs of vulnerable Zimbabwean migrants in South Africa.

“The Embassy of Zimbabwe appreciates and values the inestimable support and cooperation of the IOM. It appeals to the Zimbabwean Diaspora community in South Africa and elsewhere and other well-wishers to respond generously to this appeal”, said Ambassador David Hamadziripi, Embassy of Zimbabwe in South Africa.

The goals of this collective initiative are for the lifesaving needs of the Zimbabwean migrants in South Africa to be met through the provision of protection and health services, including emergency relief items; and for up to 4,500 stranded and vulnerable Zimbabwean migrants in South Africa to receive voluntary return assistance through IOM, including pre-departure assistance in South Africa and post-arrival assistance in Zimbabwe.

A detailed Appeal can be downloaded at this link, and donations can be made through this IOM iDiaspora link.

iDIASPORA is a global engagement and knowledge exchange hub for diaspora communities and those looking to engage with them.

For more information, please contact Mr Tunde Omoyeni, Senior Project Officer IOM South Africa at

SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities