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Cablegate: Iom Reception Center Provides Much Needed Relief

VZCZCXRO1415
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0157/01 0601017
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 011017Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1167
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1487
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1343
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1491
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0177
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0752
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1117
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1546
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3943
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1314
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 1970
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC//DHO-7//
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1708
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK//DOOC/ECMO/CC/DAO/DOB/DOI//
RUEPGBA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ23-CH/ECJ5M//

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 000157

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR PRM/AFR M. LANGE
AF/S FOR S. HILL
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN
USAID FOR M. COPSON AND E. LOKEN
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PHUM PGOV ZI SF
SUBJECT: IOM RECEPTION CENTER PROVIDES MUCH NEEDED RELIEF

-------
Summary
-------

This cable is Sensitive but Unclassified. Not for Internet
distribution.

1. (U) Poloffs from Embassies Harare and Pretoria met on
January 30 in the town of Beitbridge, Zimbabwe to tour the
International Organization for Migration (IOM) Reception
Center for Zimbabweans deported from South Africa. Since
opening its doors, the IOM Center has provided much needed
relief to deportees as well as the overburdened local police
and health and social service providers. Zimbabwean
immigration officials use a building at the IOM Center to
process all deportees returning from South Africa. After
in-take by Zimbabwean immigration, approximately 50 percent
of deportees use IOM's services, including food assistance,
medical and psycho/social attention and transport home. The
IOM Center does not provide shelter to adults but does for
unaccompanied children.

2. (U) IOM estimates that South African authorities deport
over 300 Zimbabweans every day and deportations are on the
rise. Many of the deportees report they are subject to abuse
by South African police and border officials. IOM's future
plans for Zimbabwe and South Africa include implementing a
formal registration system at the IOM Center, collaborating
on a guest worker program with the Zimbabwean and South
African Governments and opening additional facilities along
the Zimbabwean border with South Africa and Botswana. End
Summary.

----------------------------------------
The Center Provides Much Needed Services
----------------------------------------

3. (U) Nick Van Der Vyver, director of the IOM Reception and
Support Center, gave a tour of the facilities to poloffs on
January 30. Funded by the U.K. and Sweden, the IOM Center
located in Beitbridge, Zimbabwe on the border with South
Africa, opened in May 2006 to receive Zimbabweans deported
from South Africa. The IOM Center with a staff of nearly 40
is open 7 days a week - 365 days a year. Save the Children
Foundation Norway (SCFN), in cooperation with the Zimbabwean
Government Ministry for Social Welfare, began providing
services to unaccompanied children at the IOM Center in July
2006. IOM also provides Zimbabwean immigration authorities a
building that is segregated from the rest of the reception
center to process all returning deportees. After in-take by
Zimbabwean immigration, approximately 50 percent of deportees
use IOM's services, including food assistance, medical and
psycho/social attention and transport home.

4. (U) The IOM Center does not provide shelter to adults,
except in rare cases. Adult deportees choose either to be
released into the Beitbridge area or accept transport home
the same day. The IOM Center also has segregated facilities
to provide shelter for up to 40 unaccompanied children at a
time. From July to December 2006, over 1,000 unaccompanied
minors received assistance from the children's services unit
at the IOM Center. The children usually stay for a few days
as case workers from the GOZ Ministry of Social Welfare
arrange for placement with families or in an orphanage.

HARARE 00000157 002 OF 004

5. (U) Before the IOM Center opened, South African Government
(SAG) authorities dropped off the deportees at the local
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) station where they were
quickly released into the Beitbridge area. According to Van
Der Vyver, local government officials blamed the resulting
large transient population for the rising level of crime in
Beitbridge, including an increase in prostitution, sexual
assaults and petty crime. The transient population also
reportedly placed a large burden on the already strained
local health and social services in the area. Van Der Vyver
reported that local government officials have been pleased
with the much needed relief IOM has provided.

------------------------
Deportations on the Rise
------------------------

6. (U) According to GOZ data, SAG authorities deported
109,532 Zimbabweans in 2006--more than double the 49,788
deported in 2005. Van Der Vyver told us that in the past few
months 300 to 400 Zimbabweans have been deported from South
Africa every day. Van Der Vyver believed the increase in
deportations was likely explained by stepped-up SAG
enforcement in response to the massive influx of Zimbabweans
heading to South Africa to escape the worsening economic
situation at home.

7. (U) According to Van Der Vyver, the vast majority of the
deportees were young males 18 to 24 years old from the
southern provinces of Zimbabwe--especially Masvingo,
Matebeleland South, and Bulawayo. An estimated two-thirds of
deportees tried to cross illegally back to South Africa
again. (Note: Neither the GOZ nor the IOM Center currently
has a system to register and track deportees. End Note.)

8. (U) Additionally, Van Der Vyver said illegal crossings and
deportations would likely continue to rise in 2007 because
the GOZ has stopped issuing passports except in special
cases, which makes it difficult for the average Zimbabwean to
acquire necessary documentation for legal travel. On
February 21, the government-controlled daily The Herald
reported that the Registrar General's Office had a backlog of
300,000 applications for passports and did not have funding
to purchase the special paper and ink required to produce
them.

-----------
The Process
-----------

9. (U) Van Der Vyver explained that RSA authorities rounded
up most undocumented Zimbabweans during raids on farms and
factories rather than in the act of illegally crossing the
border. An estimated 80 percent of the deportees were caught
in the Limpopo Valley, a vast agricultural and mining area in
northern South Africa.

10. (U) On the day of our visit, we saw SAG buses off-load
close to 500 Zimbabweans in the late afternoon. The
deportees queued up and filed steadily through a building for
a quick interview by Zimbabwean immigration officials. Van
Der Vyver explained that the line usually only stopped when
there was a doubt about the individual's Zimbabwean

HARARE 00000157 003 OF 004


citizenship. (Note: The deportees have included in the past
Mozambican, Congolese and even Somali migrants. End Note.)
The deportees then gathered in a shaded area where IOM
representatives provided information about the importance of
safe and legal migration and reviewed the other IOM services
offered.

11. (U) After hearing the IOM pitch, the deportees were free
to leave or make use of the IOM services. Several of the
deportees poloffs interviewed said they would accept the hot
meal and transport home, but would likely cross again in a
few weeks to look for work. Most blamed President Mugabe for
Zimbabwe's problems and were just "waiting for the Old Man to
die."

----------------------------
Migrants Vulnerable to Abuse
----------------------------

12. (U) According to Van Der Vyver, many women and children
fell victim to criminals and corrupt officials along the
border. Although less than five percent of the deportees
reported abuse, IOM believes abuse rates were likely much
higher given victims typically do not report abuse as a
result of cultural sensitivities and the belief authorities
will not act. A significant number of Zimbabwean parents
live in South Africa and want their children to join them
there, leading the parents to hire smugglers to bring their
children illegally across this border. With large-scale
child smuggling, children become easy targets for deception,
prostitution, theft, rape and corruption while in transit.

13. (SBU) Van Der Vyver told us that SAG authorities also
contributed to the abuse of migrants as police and
immigration officials sometimes confiscated documents from
Zimbabweans legally in South Africa and then deported them.
Additionally, Van Der Vyver said that IOM had received
reports of SAG officials sometimes physically abusing
deportees and denying them medical attention. Van Der Vyver
said that even if a victim filed a complaint, it was
difficult to get any officer charged, much less convicted.

------------
Future Plans
------------

14. (U) Due to the increasing number of deportations and the
associated crimes and abuse against migrants, IOM's future
plans for Zimbabwe and South Africa included implementing a
formal registration and tracking system at the IOM Center,
collaborating with the SAG and GOZ on a guest worker program
and opening additional IOM facilities along the border
(specifically in Messina, South Africa across the border from
Beitbridge and in Plumtree, on the Zimbabwe side of the
border with Botswana). The IOM Center also hoped to bolster
its protection staff and to improve its outreach on health
and safe migration campaigns. Van Der Vyver said these plans
definitely had the support of GOZ authorities; however,
"everything always moves slowly with the government" and
funding remained a challenge.

-------
Comment
-------

HARARE 00000157 004 OF 004

15. (SBU) The IOM Center in Beitbridge is little more than a
band-aid on a gaping wound. Most of the Zimbabwean deportees
will again cross illegally into South Africa, many the same
day. The IOM Center, however, provides important relief and
protection for a vulnerable population. IOM's work with
children and women is particularly valuable and worthy of
support. The reality is that the flow of illegal migrants
from Zimbabwe to South Africa will continue to accelerate
until the economic and political situation in Zimbabwe
improves. End Comment.

16. (U) This cable was cleared by Embassy Pretoria.
DELL

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