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Zimbabwe Migration Office Discourages "Border Jumping"


Zimbabweans are continuing to cross into neighboring countries illegally, despite the risks. This has prompted the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Zimbabwe to launch a campaign aimed at making Zimbabweans aware of the dangers of illegal migration. Voice of America's Irwin Chifera filed this report from Hippo Valley.

The road show, dubbed "The Safe Journey Campaign" began in Chiredzi last week with the official opening of an administration center.

The facility is dedicated to educating youngsters about the importance of traveling with proper documents and the dangers associated with illegal border crossing. The venue – called "The Safe Zone Youth Centre" -- will also be used to integrate deportees back into the local community.

Its coordinator, Folen Murapa-Maphosa, explained the purpose in more detail: "This centre was formed with the youth in mind, especially those between the ages of 15 and 25. The idea is to give them information and education on how and where they can get travel documents as well as to occupy their free time so that they are useful to the community."

She says, so far, most of the people seeking assistance are, indeed, people who cross illegally --more commonly referred to as border jumpers.

The road show has moved to other parts of the South Eastern Lowveld area including Hippo Valley, Triangle And Mkwasine.

The road show consists of a truck that converts into a stage and a giant movie screen.

The truck will also take the show to Bulawayo and Plumtree, where an enthusiastic crew of actors will perform interactive productions.

The Safe Journey Roadshow also warns the audience that illegal migrants often face attacks by those mistrustful of them. It also warns those who cross borders illegally that they will be subject to violence and abuse by potential employers, and have no access to health care or legal protection.

Murapa-Maposa acknowledges that while some participants have promised to obtain proper travel documents, others say they'll continue to cross illegally because of economic hardship in their country.

In her words, “The youths are satisfied with the information they are getting and most are rushing to get travel documents. However we have a situation where others are saying they will continue to do border jumping."

The road show has been staged in the southeast of the country, specifically because the majority of border jumpers reportedly originate from this region.

Last year, the I-O-M opened a reception and support center at Beitbridge.

Since then, the Center has received at least 130-thousand Zimbabweans on being deported from South Africa.