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Cablegate: Zimbabweans Opting for More Remote Border Crossings

VZCZCXRO3733
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHTO #1472 3511445
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 171445Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY MAPUTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8368
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0102

UNCLAS MAPUTO 001472

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREF SMIG MZ ZM
SUBJECT: ZIMBABWEANS OPTING FOR MORE REMOTE BORDER CROSSINGS

REF: MAPUTO 1239

1. (U) Poloff met on 12/10 with a Zimbabwean refugee in
Mozambique, currently working for an NGO dealing largely with
refugee issues. The contact said that while the largest
border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique (Mutare/Machipanga in
Manica province) has received the most attention since visa
requirements between the two countries were dropped last
month, many Zimbabweans are opting for the remote border
crossing at Eduardo Mondlane in northwestern Gaza Province.
He further asserted that "thousands" of Zimbabweans used this
crossing in the past year: it is not as dangerous as crossing
the crocodile-infested river border with South Africa or as
strictly controlled as the Mutare/Machipanga crossing.

2. (U) The refugee asserted that under the auspices of his
NGO work, he has spoken with Zimbabweans who traveled by bus
through the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe to the
border with Mozambique. Once in Mozambique, some opt to
cross into South Africa via Kruger Park, while most board the
train to Maputo. A small percentage of Zimbabweans stay in
Maputo and get jobs as English teachers or with international
NGOs, but according to the contact most cross into Swaziland
(which has no visa requirements) or into South Africa via
Ponta d'Ouro, on Mozambique's extreme southern border. The
Zimbabweans who choose to stay in Mozambique do not register
with UNHCR because they are typically well-educated and
believe they would have a better life working illegally in
Maputo than if they lived at the Marratane refugee camp in
Nampula Province, where UNHCR would likely send them.

3. (SBU) COMMENT: The "discovery" of this third option for
Zimbabweans entering Mozambique is significant. The
Mutare/Machipanda crossing is presently the busiest crossing,
with more than 500 Zimbabweans crossing daily into Mozambique
since the dropping of visa requirements in November, while
the Cuchamano border crossing in Tete Province is a likely
path for those hoping to reach English-speaking Malawi. NGOs
estimate the majority of those crossing now at those two
posts involve "day visitors" gathering food and other
supplies not readily available in Zimbabwe. Those using the
crossing at Eduardo Mondlane, however, are more likely
refugees, taking advantage of Mozambique's porous borders and
using the country as a transit point to reach South Africa.
If the situation in Zimbabwe deteriorates further, this route
at Eduardo Mondlane may become as heavily used as the
Mutare/Machipanda crossing.

Chapman

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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