GENEVA, October 12, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- IOM South Africa on Monday 15th October 2012, will hand over new and improved shelters for up to 200 unaccompanied boys and 80 vulnerable female migrants in Musina, the border town of South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The shelters were constructed under the European Commission-funded project "Support to the South African Government to Strengthen Communities of Diversity and Peace" in partnership with UNDP and South African Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA.)
Since 2008 Musina has recorded an influx of irregular migrants including unaccompanied minors, abused women and other vulnerable migrants. Many of the women and girls are survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and many of the children have left or lost contact with their families on their long journey to South Africa.
By July 2012 faith-based organizations that had previously provided shelter and food for vulnerable migrants were finding themselves increasingly stretched by ever increasing numbers of arrivals.
IOM, in partnership with the Musina Local Municipality and Musina Mayor Madam Carol Phiri, responded by launching the project to build and upgrade the two shelters, which will provide better living conditions and restore the dignity and basic human rights of the migrants.
"This project is a good example of IOM's efforts to address irregular migration challenges and strengthen communities of peace and diversity in South Africa through partnering closely with both communities and the government," says IOM's acting Chief of Mission in South Africa, Dr. Erick Ventura.
The new shelters include new accommodation facilities, furnished living and dining areas, built-in kitchens, running water and sanitation, laundry areas, as well as furniture, including beds with mosquito nets.
"We are happy that finally the vulnerable women, young girls and boys will enjoy humane living conditions and the protection they deserve. As the local municipality, we remain committed to work with IOM and partners to find solutions to migration challenges in the area," says Madam Carol Phiri.
Many of the irregular migrants crossing into South Africa have also reported incidents of sexual assault, robbery, physical assault, drowning and even murder. Due to the transitory nature of these populations, access to care services in particular, Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) services, trauma counseling and medical care remains a big challenge due to limited capacity on government facilities.
IOM upgraded and strengthened the capacity of the Thuthuzela Care Centre (TCC) in Musina by procuring new medical and essential office equipment for the centre and conducting medical forensic training for 11 nurses.
IOM also conducted capacity building workshops for 17 shelter staff on shelter management, programme management and case management in order to address capacity constraints of community based and faith based organizations and shelters in providing protection assistance to migrants in Musina.
The IOM office in Musina continues to provide protection and family tracing assistance to stranded migrants and unaccompanied minors. The office is also actively involved in strengthening the local response to address the health and social needs of migrants through capacity building workshops on HIV/TB for healthcare professionals in Musina and Beitbridge.
Source: International Office of Migration (IOM)