IOM is recognised by the Government of Zimbabwe as the principal international intergovernmental organization addressing the entire spectrum of migration issues, providing technical assistance on migration management, emergency response, health interventions, protection of migrants’ rights, and dissemination of safe migration information. As the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration, IOM acts with its partners in the international community to assist in meeting the growing operational challenges of migration and displacement management, providing a comprehensive response to the increase in climate related disasters and displacement. IOM seeks to ensure crisis protection and assistance needs are met through the provision of timely, multi-sectoral interventions, while simultaneously addressing the root causes of vulnerability related to natural hazards thereby building resilience to future risks in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is extremely vulnerable to a wide range of crises, including disasters related to natural hazards. In recent years, floods, tropical storms, droughts, and economic and financial crises have deteriorated the resilience capacity of the population, impacting the most vulnerable rural regions of the country and exacerbating humanitarian needs.
The COVID-19 outbreak in the country has further exacerbated the situation, resulting in increasing poverty and inequalities and reinforcing the need for additional humanitarian assistance for the most vulnerable.
The socio-economic impact of COVID-19 has exposed vulnerabilities and inequalities within the current food system and access to basic services, damaged livelihoods strategies and social coping mechanisms, and led to further displacement and inward migration.
This pandemic poses a profound risk for communities in fragile or crisisaffected contexts, particularly for internally displaced persons (IDPs), host communities, and other vulnerable and at-risk groups such as stranded migrants, given their limited access to services and information on protective measures. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 380,000 Zimbabwean migrants have returned to Zimbabwe, fearing issues related to personal safety, and expecting to obtain job opportunities to support reintegration into their communities.
The pandemic increased the pressure on communities already significantly affected by protracted crises with an additional burden that added to unemployment and the need to increase social services and protections that were already under strain.
The complex crisis in Zimbabwe requires a multi-layered response addressing diverse needs arising from both protracted displacement and new emergencies causing continuous waves of migration out-flows as well as returns. Increasing resilience and fostering social cohesion must go hand in hand with dynamic responses providing life-saving assistance and improvement of basic services in order to address the needs of the population suffering from ongoing displacement.
IOM’s strategic integrated approach, supported by the contributions of its Member States, and implemented through local partnerships, continues to assist the Government of Zimbabwe to address migration challenges and to ensure the safety and well-being of vulnerable mobile populations throughout the country.