INTERPOL Receives IT Equipment To Help Solve Missing Zim Migrants Cases

…a third of missing migrants cases solved already

IN a move that is set to help ease the search for missing migrant Zimbabweans, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), has donated a consignment of Information Technology (IT) equipment to the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) in Harare.

By Michael Gwarisa

The consignment consists of 12 desktops, five laptops and scanners and is aimed at helping INTERPOL in the process of collecting data as well as the transmission of cases of missing and deceased migrants to INTERPOL bureaus not only in Southern Africa but around the world.

In his acceptance speech, Deputy Police Commissioner Stephen Mutamba said the donation by ICRC was an affirmation of the cordial relations that exist between the Zimbabwe police force and the ICRC

As an organisation, we enjoy a cordial relationship with the ICRC and this dates back to many years ago. I remember in 2021, the ICRC donated 11 Cameras and 100 body bags to our forensic science laboratory to use under the missing and deceased migrants families program. Not only did you do that but you went on an extra mile by conducting a training workshop on the management of missing and deceased migrants

“Today is another special day in the ICRC calendar as it seeks to donate 12 Desktop computers and five laptops all to the tune of US$25,600. No doubt this contribution will considerably enhance our capacity in the management of deceased and missing migrant’s cases,” said Deputy Commissioner Mutamba.

The ICRC has been working with INTERPOL and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) on the Missing and Deceased Migrants and their Families Programme since 2016 to address the plight of families with relatives that migrated to South Africa and went missing, either during their journey or after arrival.

In 2016, the ICRC, with the support of the authorities in the Zaka and Gwanda districts, collected personal information from families on the missing persons that could be used to assist in the search for them in South Africa, whether alive or dead. The ICRC then visited communities in South Africa seeking to trace the missing individuals alive. In the unfortunate event that the ICRC could not find the missing migrants, with the informed consent of the families, it shared the missing persons data with the South African authorities to see if they could match the description with unknown bodies in South African mortuaries or cemeteries.

ICRC Head of Delegation for the ICRC in Southern Africa, Mamadou Sow said, “For the
past few years, we have had the pleasure of working here in Zimbabwe directly with 
communities that had many of their loved ones gone and missing as a result of mainly
migration to South Africa and beyond.

“We found out through this work that they were ways that we could enhance this by capacitating the government to take over most of these responsibilities so that tomorrow when someone goes missing, the wife or the son or brother can go to the closest police station and make a request. This information will be traced all the way to South Africa and back the person will be able to have the news whether its positive, whether the person is found and there is possibility to be reunited and unfortunately also it does happen that in the course of looking for persons, we come to know that they have passed away,” he said.

Meanwhile, speaking on the missing persons situation and case load, Mrs Unita Ndou, the ICRC Restoring Family Links Field Officer for the Missing Migrants Project said they have managed to find and locate a third of the 135 cases that have been reported to them since the year 2016.

“What we do with this program is that we are working with authorities in both Zimbabwe and South Africa to try and find missing migrants as reported by families. This on its own helps families to find closure because they really want to know what has happened to their loved ones. As an organisation, we engage with authorities in both Zimbabwe and South Africa so that we are able to assist the families in finding answers to the missing relatives that have gone to South Africa,” said Mrs Ndou.

She added that, It is not infrequent for migrants to involuntarily lose contact with their families and disappear without a trace. The family members who are left behind, are deeply affected as they face the uncertainty of
not knowing whether their loved ones are alive or dead. They can also face numerous practical
challenges and lack the resources to conduct an efficient search across the border.

She added that since the rest of the cases were now being channeled through the INTERPOL. From the third that have been recovered or found, the bulk of them are still alive and only three cases have been found as deceased persons since they commenced the program in 2016.



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