From Reuters Alert Net, writer Katy Migiro describes how the country is bracing for the mass return of people.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says thousands of migrants are expected to pass through a reception and support centre it's been running since 2006 for Zimbabwean migrants at Beitbridge on the Zimbabwe-South Africa border.
IOM officials say services on offer include medical care, counselling for rape victims, temporary shelter and family tracing for unaccompanied children, and free transport home to Zimbabwe. IOM also has a project to help people to set up their own small businesses, such as hairdressing or carpentry.
Poverty is likely to be the greatest challenge for returnees with unemployment a staggering 80 percent in Zimbabwe. Many will not even have money to travel from the border back to their communities or buy basic household items, aid workers say.
UNHCR will help returnees get vital documentation. National identity cards are necessary “for pretty much everything” in Zimbabwe, including sitting school exams and accessing health care services, according to Tina Ghelli, a UNHCR Southern Africa official.
In April 2009, South Africa halted the repatriation of Zimbabweans in recognition of the political violence and economic collapse in their home country.
South Africa now wants to resume deportations following the introduction of a power-sharing government between President Robert Mugabe and rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai after disputed elections in 2008.