ABOUT 200 000 Zimbabweans have returned home since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic after falling victim to job losses and deportations, particularly from neighbouring South Africa and Botswana.
This was revealed by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Zimbabwe chief of mission Mario Lito Malanca yesterday.
“I share this report with you in the week where Zimbabwe marks the return of over 200 000 migrant returnees since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020,” he said.
“These migrants have returned to the very communities which led them to look for a better life elsewhere and have no livelihood opportunities to sustain their return and overall socio-economic stability.”
Malanca said IOM had supported the national COVID-19 emergency response to reach these returnees with assistance through the different pillars of co-ordination and partnership, risk communication and community engagement, disease surveillance, points of entry, infection prevention and control, protection, temporary water sanitation and hygiene and reintegration assistance.
“The support we and our partners have provided migrant returnees is commendable, we however must remember that these migrants are returning to communities that are often ill-equipped to accommodate them,” he said.
“We must, as a matter of urgency, consider and implement interventions that will cushion returning migrants from the negative socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic while providing for sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their home communities. We hope to continue to work with you in this and other endeavours.”
Early this week, the IOM appealed for US$ 38,9 million to assist 1 719 758 people, adding that around US$10 million would be channelled towards addressing the socio-economic impact of COVID-19.