South Africa is a major destination and transit country for migrants from the Eastern and Southern Africa regions and beyond. Though the Southern African route receives far less public attention than the Central Mediterranean route, the dangers and risks that migrants face along this route are of similar concern from a humanitarian perspective.
Along the journey and within the country, migrants often face intense hardships and violations of their fundamental rights. This has lasting effects on their physical and mental health and on their families. Many lose their lives, and it is not infrequent for migrants to lose contact with their families and disappear without a trace. In fact, no reliable data exists on the number of separated, missing or deceased migrants along the Southern African route. The family members who are left behind are also deeply affected as they face the uncertainty of not knowing whether their loved ones are alive or dead.
Addressing these increasing humanitarian concerns in the region, the Pretoria regional delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is working on various projects in Southern Africa that aim to prevent migrants from disappearing or getting separated, restore and maintain contact with family members and increase the rate of identification of bodies in South African mortuaries.