Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
A TOTAL of 20 Zimbabweans based in South Africa have been reunited with their families, some after 40 years through a pilot project launched by the International Confederation of Red Cross (ICRC).
In an interview on the side-lines of the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) media engagement workshop in Gweru, ICRC representative Mr Hilton Zvidzayi said they had started a pilot project called the Missing and Deceased Migrants Project that helps people reconnect with their families.
The pilot project has resulted in 20 people being reunited with their families back home in Gwanda in Matabeleland South and Zaka in Masvingo province.
He said the ICRC is working with the ZRCS and Red Crescent Society abroad in this programme aimed at assisting missing and deceased migrants to reconnect with their families.
“We are running a pilot project to understand the needs and challenges in terms of reuniting missing and deceased people with their families. So we had 67 cases we collected in Gwanda and 33 cases we collected in Zaka. Of these cases, we managed to solve 20 cases which have been closed successfully with our intervention after we managed to collect data in Zimbabwe and took it to South Africa and managed to reunite these 20 people with their families back home,” said Mr Zvidzayi.
He said eight cases were solved on their own after the people returned to their homes in Gwanda and Zaka after having been away without communication.
“So right now we have 72 pending cases. We haven’t been able to identify the people because we are still to go to South Africa with the data we collected but our tracing officer will go to South Africa soon with the hope of completing these cases,” he said.
Mr Zvidzayi said they now have a new programme called Trace The Family in which they will be using data of a family member in need of being reunited with a missing or deceased migrant.
“We are encouraging people to come to the Red Cross for this new programme and leave details for those who want to be put on their data base for us to use in tracing their missing relative.
“This is fairly a new programme in this country. Globally however there are 16 000 cases ICRC and its partners are working on and we are confident of reuniting families,” he said.