Smugglers’ infamous role in the ruthless Southern Route

 A NEW study has offered more insight to the role played by smugglers in facilitating the migration of refugees and migrants into South Africa. The Mixed Migration Centre has revealed this trend in a new report, “Southbound: Mixed migration routes, experiences and risks along the journey to South Africa.”

It examines the key drivers and intentions, routes and vulnerabilities of refugees and migrants traveling along the Southern Route. The route is from East and the Horn of Africa, through the Great Lakes and Southern Africa, to South Africa. Among the findings from a survey that had the participation of 12
nationalities, over half (51 percent) individuals cited using one or several smugglers for a part, multiple parts or the entirety of their journey. However, the share of those using a smuggler was higher among respondents from East and the Horn of Africa (73 percent).

Refugees and migrants from East and the Horn of Africa engage in complex and varied journeys towards South Africa, involving multiple stops and modes of transport. According to the report, many mentioned Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and Maputo (Mozambique) as key locations along the route to stop to look for smugglers to organise the next stretch of the journey, followed by waiting for transport.

Some 56 percent of respondents reported having been in one or more dangerous locations while on route to South Africa. Beitbridge, in Zimbabwe on the border with South Africa, is one such location, where respondents cited bribery, robbery and detention as associated risks.

Among the dangerous locations cited, robbery (54 percent) was the most mentioned protection risk, followed by bribery and/or extortion (52 percent) and detention (34 percent).

While a majority (81 percent) maintained South Africa was their intended destination, several respondents explained that the conditions in-country were “not as they were told or had expected”, particularly in
relation to overall insecurity, fewer economic opportunities and issues related to work and residency documentation.

The continent’s most advanced economy, South Africa is a destination for those seeking employment opportunities and refuge. A majority are from neighbouring Zimbabwe. The government is tightening its immigration policy, leaving the future of many nationals from outside the country uncertain.

– CAJ News



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