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IOM prepares for mass deportations

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The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has put in place a contingency plan to provide humanitarian assistance to thousands of Zimbabwean immigrants facing deportation from South Africa at the end of next month.

The deadline for the registration process is July 31 and South African authorities have said deportations would begin immediately after the deadline.

Statistics from the South African Home Affairs revealed about 276 000 Zimbabweans had registered for permits since the process began in September last year.

An estimated 1,5 million Zimbabweans are reportedly staying in South Africa, most of them illegally.

The IOM said in a statement it was activating an emergency response plan at the Beitbridge Border Post to provide humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwean migrants facing deportation.

“Hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans are likely to be deported from South Africa after the July 31 deadline for the registration process,” IOM said.

“We have launched a programme in partnership with humanitarian partners to provide humanitarian and protection assistance to vulnerable returnees.”

IOM said it had pre-positioned non-food items including tents and blankets at reception and support centres at the Beitbridge border post.

The IOM Beitbridge and Plumtree centres, which opened in 2006 and 2008, respectively, have offered humanitarian assistance to over 437 000 returnees over the last six years.

The assistance ranged from medical treatment, temporary shelter, food, water and sanitation facilities, family tracing and unification assistance as well as transportation.

The organisation began putting in place contingency plans last December, before the deadline was moved from March to July 31 this year.

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