Zimbabwe + 5 more

Zimbabwe: UNHCR Operational Update, January 2019


01 – 31 January 2019

255 asylum seekers arrived during the month of January of which 89% were from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Sub-agreements were signed with all partners and the first installment disbursed to all partners before 10 January 2019.


19,911 persons of concern


  • 13,367 Registered refugees, asylum seekers and other persons of concern as at 31 January 2019

  • 62% Percentage of registered people of concern were granted refugee status by the Government of Zimbabwe as of October.

  • 7,999 Mozambican asylum seekers living in Zimbabwe of whom 1,435 and 18 Zimbabwe spouses live in Tongogara refugee camp and 6,546 a profiled but not yet biometrically registered asylum seekers live among Zimbabwean host communities in Manicaland province.

  • 255 Asylum seekers who arrived in Zimbabwe between 01- 31 January 2019.

  • 141 Host nationals (Zimbabweans) are spouses and children to persons of concern.


Achievements and Impact

Voluntary Repatriation of Zimbabwe refugees from Botswana

▪ UNHCR held a meeting with IOM to clarify the status of the impending return of Zimbabwean refugees in Botswana who have been classified as economic migrants by some Government of Zimbabwe Officials. UNHCR Representation plans held meetings with the Resident Coordinator, WFP, IOM and UNICEF to ensure a common position that UNHCR takes lead as this exercise is within its mandate. A budget for this exercise was approved by UNHCR’s HQ. For effective coordination, IOM has expressed willingness to liaise with UNHCR to ensure assistance to the returnees. Discussions are ongoing at various levels within UNHCR for dignified return of the Zimbabwean refugees.

Child protection system strengthened

▪ TDH, UNHCR’s child protection partner recorded 5 cases (3F: 2M) of missing children. TDH enlisted the services of the Zimbabwe Republic Police resulting in the 3 of the missing children being found in Harare. UNHCR and the Department of Social Welfare has since facilitated the re-unification of the children with their families in Tongogara camp.

▪ Best Interest Assessments for 5 Unaccompanied and separated minors (3F:2M) were initiated by TDH. The children have been placed under alternative care arrangements and educational, psychosocial support and tracing needs addressed. ▪ One female child was successfully placed under foster care arrangements facilitated by Department of Social Welfare.

Security situation

▪ Government security personnel, including the police and military, were observed patrolling the CBD of major cities and towns as well as manning strategic entry points and road blocks, as the government remained on high alert following protests that rocked the country during the month. ▪ In an operation akin to “murambatsvina” (loosely translated as “clean up the dirt”) of 2007-2008, the Government embarked on the destruction of all illegal structures in Mbare and Chitungwiza, two high density suburbs near Harare on 25 January. Armed soldiers destroyed makeshift tuckshops, log cabins and flea market stalls. The operation seems to be aimed at perceived opposition strongholds and reducing the possibilities of large crowds easily gathering. UNHCR continues to reach out to refugees to establish if any urban based refugees were affected.

▪ The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference are reported to have held with the Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and the Minister of Defence, Oppah Muchinguri following the January protests. The Catholic Bishops issued a pastoral letter expressing concern at the deteriorating economic situation, government’s reaction to economic problems and its heavy handed response to dissent. The Catholic Bishops called on the ruling and opposition parties to set aside their political differences in order to rebuild the country in the same manner that the Government of National Unity in 2009 helped restore the economy and built goodwill with the international community. UNDSS continued to monitor the situation and periodically provide security advisories to UN Agency staff as the situation evolved. All UN (HCR) staff are safe.