BY SILAS NKALA
ZIMBABWE has been adjudged one of the countries with the highest number of missing immigrants, including the 21 who were swept away by the Limpopo River between 2014 and January 2021.
The 21 were trying to cross the Zimbabwean border into South Africa.
This was revealed by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in a report titled Families of Missing Migrants: Their Search for Answers, the Impact of Loss and Recommendations for Improved Support which was released yesterday.
The IOM has since 2014 documented deaths and disappearances of more than 42 000 migrants worldwide.
“Tens of thousands of people worldwide live with the pain and uncertainty of not knowing the fate of their relatives and loved ones who went missing or died during migration around the world. Besides the emotional toll, their lives may be forever marked by the many psychosocial, legal and financial impacts related to the disappearance of their relatives,” the report read.
“Many may have gone missing on these journeys, but the exact numbers are not known, as there is a lack of systematic and reliable data on the number of people who go missing on migration journeys from Zimbabwe to South Africa. It is likely that there are many unreported and unrecorded cases of migrants who have gone missing or lost their lives during the journey or thereafter”.
The organisation called on member States to make an effort to identify people that would have gone missing and facilitate communication with the affected families.
The report further said most Zimbabweans left the country due to the deteriorating socio-economic situation, with the majority crossing to South Africa.
“While complete data on the number of people who died attempting to cross from Zimbabwe to South Africa do not exist, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has recorded 21 cases of people who drowned in the Limpopo River while attempting to cross the border between the two countries irregularly between 2014 and 2020.
“In the absence of State-funded tools and services to address their needs, families of missing migrants develop their own strategies to search for information, through informal channels.”