The Government of Zambia and Switzerland-based IOM, the UN Migration Agency, are working together on the construction of a protective shelter in the Sesheke, a border district. The shelter is being built to provide a
Sign posted along part of Zambia's border.
The shelter is being built to provide a place of safety for vulnerable migrants, particularly women and children, and ultimately ensure that they avoid unnecessary detention.
The shelter will receive referrals of vulnerable migrants and provide them with other much needed services, including healthcare, with a view to finding lasting solutions which may include return to the migrants’ country or place of origin.
Sesheke District, a border town between Zambia and Namibia, is both a source and transit district for migrants moving in what are known as “mixed” flows. These include victims of human trafficking, refugees and asylum seekers, as well as irregular migrants, many of whom need protective support.
“Government will endeavour to provide adequate protection services to vulnerable migrants as they are a marginalised group; we need to protect them and ensure their rights are protected and they have access to adequate protection services,” said Emerine Kabanshi, Minster of Community Development and Social Welfare, during the ground-breaking ceremony of the protective shelter in Sesheke last week (04/01).
The border district presents migration dynamics which are exacerbated by high poverty levels and unemployment, which are ion turn linked to environmental factors such as irregular rainfall patterns.
These harsh realities have forced many Zambians to move to other parts of the country, as well as across borders into neighbouring countries in search of opportunity and a better life. Some, invariably, end up being exploited.
The district also lacks adequate mechanisms for the identification and referral of vulnerable migrants to appropriate services. Coordination among actors is not very strong and many vulnerable migrants, including children, end up in detention facilities due to a lack of available protective services, including shelter.
During the ceremony, the Minister also launched the Zambia Communication Strategy on Mixed Migration and Human Trafficking. Themed “Know Before You Go”, it is designed to ensure that migrants, or potential migrants, possess relevant information and documentation prior to making their move, regardless of intent.
“Prevention of human trafficking requires knowledge and understanding of the trafficking dynamics but among communities of the potential dangers and strategies to migrate safely. In short: Know Before You Go!,” said IOM Zambia Chief of Mission Marianne Lane.
Lane also echoed the words of the IOM Director General, William Lacy Swing, who said: “Migration is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be managed; moreover, migration is inevitable and desirable, if well managed.”
The project is financially supported by the US State Department, Bureau of Population, Refugee and Migration (PRM) and Irish Aid, DFID and the Governments of Sweden and Finland s part of their support to the United Nations Joint Programme on Social Protection (which combines efforts by the ILO, IOM, FAO, WFP and UNICEF).