MASVINGO province has the highest number of undocumented Zimbabweans being deported from South Africa and Botswana, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said.
UNHCR Resident Representative for Zimbabwe, Marcellin Hepie, said 27 percent of the 22,000 and 11,000 undocumented Zimbabweans deported as from October 2011 to May 2012 from South Africa and Botswana respectively where from Masvingo province.
According to Hepie, Matabeleland North follows with 21 percent, with Matabeleland South and Manicaland provinces contributing 15 and 10 percent of the Zimbabweans deported respectively.
The three Mashonaland provinces account for 27 percent of the total number of deportees.
“You must note that these people are not refugees but are classified as undocumented people,” he said.
The UNHCR country representative said Botswana has only 1,000 documented refugees from Zimbabwe that are staying at the Dokwe camp.
“Most of them who have been accorded refugee status went to Botswana in 2008. However, I won’t be able to tell you the number of Zimbabweans accorded refugee status in South Africa out of the 250,000 that went seeking asylum because South Africa is secretive about it,” Hepie said.
According to the International Organisation of Migration, about 1,15 million Zimbabweans are living in South Africa.
Meanwhile, speaking on the commemoration of World Refugee Day celebrated on 20 June annually, Hepie said Zimbabwe currently accommodates 5,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Cote d’Ivoire, Uganda and Sudan.
“UNHCR wishes to record its special thanks because despite the tremendous developmental and other challenges facing the country, both the government and people of Zimbabwe have remained committed to preserving the institution of asylum and tolerating the presence of refugees and other persons of concern on Zimbabwean territory, and most importantly, sharing the meager resources such as health and medical facilities as well as ensuring the personal security for refugees and other persons of concern,” he said.