IOM supports the governments of Malawi and South Africa in facilitating voluntary return of 57 Malawian nationals from South Africa

Some of the returnees

Lilongwe, 12 April 2019 – The International Organization for Migration (IOM), in collaboration with the Governments of Malawi and South Africa, has assisted 57 Malawian nationals with voluntary return from South Africa. The support was provided within the context of the “Pilot Action on Voluntary Return and Sustainable Community-Based Reintegration” project, funded by the European Union (EU), with aim of supporting the voluntary return of vulnerable and stranded Malawian and Mozambican migrants who no longer wish to remain in South Africa, but do not have the means to return to their country of origin.

The voluntary return of the Malawian migrants came following the outbreak of violence in KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, where several Malawian nationals were also affected and left stranded.

According to the recent reports from South Africa, the violence in Durban, South Africa led to the displacement of about 300 Malawian nationals. Out of the 300 affected migrants, 105 Malawian nationals expressed willingness to voluntarily return to Malawi. However, upon realizing that the situation had appeased, some decided to return to their communities in Durban.

The Mayor of Durban and representatives from the Malawian High Commissioner in South Africa encouraged the community members to live together in peace and harmony and use the existing structures to address issues in the community instead of taking the law into their hands. The community indicated that they were ready to receive the Malawians back into the community.

“IOM condemns the actions of the criminal elements in the community and urge the migrants in the community to respect the laws of the country. IOM is actively engaged with the Government of South Africa and Malawi to facilitate the safe, orderly and voluntary return of the migrants affected by the violence to their home country” said Mr. Mpilo Nkomo, IOM Head of Office in Malawi.

Mr Kenneddy Nkhoma, Chief Director for the Ministry of Homeland Security, said that “the Malawi Government is saddened by the violence that occurred in Durban, and is fully engaged with its counterpart, South Africa, to support the nationals that have been affected by the violence. We are very grateful to the IOM and the EU Delegation to Malawi for assisting the affected nationals with voluntary return under the Pilot Action. The government wishes to assure the public that this incident should not discourage them from travelling to South Africa due to this unfortunate incident which is denting the otherwise good relations between South Africa and Malawi.”

The returnees have been received in groups with the first group of 19 migrants (1 female, 18 males) received on the 8th of April, the second group of 23 migrants (1 female, 22 males) and the final group of 15 males is being received today, Friday, 12 April 2019. In collaboration with relevant government ministries, screening, counseling and home tracing of the returnees is being conducted before escorting the returnees to their respective communities of origin in Malawi.

“No amount of discord and socio-economic challenges in local communities can justify violence and killings against fellow human beings. The South African Government has taken a holistic approach to the issue of violence against foreign nationals by engaging with as many stake holders as possible, including the diplomatic community, business, religious formations, NGOs, community leaders, and foreign nationals’ forums to identify the recurring socio-economic concerns of communities and finding workable solutions. We are continuing to strive for a long-term solution that ensures the peaceful coexistence of our communities. Many Malawian nationals are visitors to and, are living in South Africa and many more are attracted to pursuing prosperity in our country,” said the South African High Commissioner, Ambassador Thenjiwe Mtintso.

While in South Africa, through the Pilot Action, information is given to migrants to help them make informed decisions about their return. Such information includes sensitization on the support that is available to them such as pre-departure counseling, assistance in securing travel documents, booking and payment of air tickets, transit assistance to returnees that are outside Johannesburg.

“The EU Delegation in Malawi is a proud partner of voluntary returns of people who left Malawi voluntarily as organized by IOM, and deplores the breach of physical integrity suffered by migrants in South Africa over the last days. The safe and orderly return of 57 migrants is one core objective of the EU’s migration policy, which moreover has a strong focus of reintegration of the concerned people into their societies. The EU in Malawi encourages the Government of Malawi to further this objective in line with both national and international best practices,” said Ambassador Sandra Paesen.

Upon returning in Malawi, migrants receive support services such as reception at the airport by IOM, transportation from airport to the lodge for accommodation if needed, and accommodation while logistics are being arranged for returnees to be met by relevant stakeholder for further support, and provision of counseling sessions by Ministry by social workers.

So far, IOM, in collaboration with the Government of Malawi, and with funding support from the EU, has assisted 246 Malawian nationals with voluntary return from South Africa, under the Pilot Action.

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For more information, please contact:

Jacqueline Mpeni, Communication Officer, IOM Malawi Office, jmpeni@iom.int

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