An estimated 20 000 migrants are expected to have returned to Zimbabwe from neighbouring countries in next few months as the effects of Covid-19 pandemic take its toll.

This is the prediction made this week by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

A total of 14 044 migrants have returned to Zimbabwe from neighbouring countries, as of 5 August, with the large majority of returnees arriving through the points of entry of Beitbridge border post, Plumtree, Harare International airport and Forbes.

However, the figure is higher than the official statistics as some returning residents are skipping illegally back into Zimbabwe.

“The number continues to increase daily, with a projection of 20,000 new arrivals in the next coming months with inclusion of those from northern countries, such as Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Ethiopia,” OCHA said in a recent Situation Report on Zimbabwe.

“As of 5 August, a total of 14,044 migrants (versus 10,808 on 7 July; and 6,892 on 9 June), including 7,724 men, 6,036 women and 284 children, have returned to Zimbabwe from neighbouring countries through nine of the main Points of Entry (PoEs), namely Beitbridge, Plumtree, Kazungula, Victoria Falls land border, Victoria Falls airport, Chirundu, Forbes, Sango and Harare (Robert Gabriel International) Airport, since the onset of Covid-19 and the imposed restrictive measures, due to the socio-economic impact of the pandemic, the lack of access to livelihoods and support from host governments.”

“As of 5 August, 1,314 returnees were quarantined in 44 centres operated by government, including 689 men, 527 women, 50 girls and 48 boys. The large majority of returnees were quarantined in Harare (340), Manicaland (96), Bulawayo (168), Masvingo (191), Mashonaland West (1402) and Matabeleland South (164).