AN estimated half a million Zimbabwean immigrants in foreign lands were forced to return home since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest International Organisation for Migration (IOM) report.

“By the end of 2021, over 472 409 migrants had returned to Zimbabwe since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of these returnees were arriving in communities with limited means to cater for them,” the IOM annual report for 2022 read.

There are no exact statistics of the number of Zimbabweans outside the country, but estimates put the figure at about three million.

Reports show that Zimbabwean immigrants in South Africa suffered the brunt of the effects of that country’s extended lockdown, which left many with no sources of income.

A number of Zimbabweans registered to be repatriated back home.

“IOM continues to support government efforts to strengthen migration management capacities, implement protection and recovery projects, respond to natural disasters and other emergencies causing displacements and improve health outcomes of migrants and migration affected communities,” the IOM report added. Newsday

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