from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE – BOTSWANA and South Africa have deported more than 1 700 undocumented Zimbabweans during ongoing restrictions against the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) documented the deportations.
South Africa forcibly returned 1 330 of these nationals through the Beitbridge Reception Centre.
More than 430 of the migrants expelled from South Africa were extradited during mass deportation of illegal migrants held at Lindela holding facility in Johannesburg and other holding facilities in the northern Limpopo Province.
Among the deported migrants are three minors below the age of five.
A majority of the deportees from South Africa are aged between 18-59 years.
Most of them originate from the provinces of Manicaland, Masvingo and Matabeleland South.
The areas are the most drought-stricken.
More than 390 Zimbabwean irregular migrants were repatriated from Botswana through the Plumtree Border Post.
The migrants are currently quarantined at Plumtree High School, which has been turned into a COVID-2019 isolation centre.
IOM lamented that the deportees had been living in squalid and unhygienic conditions, waiting for the lapse of the 21-day lockdown period before travel to their homes.
The Zimbabwean government has extended the lockdown by two weeks to the beginning of May.
IOM quoted immigration officials indicating high possibilities of more repatriations during or immediately after the lockdown.
In a related development, IOM is working to repatriate 27 Ethiopian migrants stranded and held under quarantine in Zimbabwe.
They are held in detention centres in the capital Harare and the southern town of Gwanda.
– CAJ News