The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has said human traffickers are dumping illegal immigrants destined for South Africa in Zimbabwe due to the two countries’ lockdown measures which are impeding travelling.
Immigrants from countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Malawi and the Horn of Africa region use Zimbabwe as a transit country to South Africa. IOM said in a statement:
Zimbabwe has been a transit country for migrants from Malawi and the Horn of Africa heading to South Africa to find work and other economic opportunities.
These irregular migrants were apprehended by the Zimbabwean law enforcement authorities and were detained for unlawful entry into the country.
IOM added that some immigrants are dumped in Zimbabwe and are vulnerable to serious human rights violations including sexual abuse, torture, exploitation and neglect.
Some migrants were abandoned in Zimbabwe by smugglers and traffickers and remained in the country illegally, while others decided to return to Malawi after realising the restrictive measures imposed by the governments of both Zimbabwe and South Africa that impede their migratory process to their final destination.
Migrants going through Zimbabwe to South Africa are affected by a range of human smuggling and serious human rights violations including sexual abuse, torture, exploitation, neglect and even death.
Illegal migration into Zimbabwe and South Africa could fuel the spread of coronavirus as the countries battle to contain the virus.