Zimbabwe’s social and economic decline has forced many Zimbabweans to leave the country during the last few years. The vast majority of those leaving do so by irregular means and do not request refugee status. They are viewed by neighbouring governments as illegal economic migrants and run the risk of deportation. It is therefore difficult to assess their numbers or provide assistance. Since 2000, oppressive policies and post-election violence have also seen hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans forcibly displaced within the country. However the Government of Zimbabwe deny the existence of internally displaced people and have thus refused a comprehensive national assessment of their numbers and needs.
In Zimbabwe, the Department for International Development (DFID) is the second largest donor to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), providing £5 million to deliver humanitarian assistance to 250,000 Zimbabwean deportees from South Africa and 30,000 from Botswana, at key border crossing points, as well as over 240,000 victims of forced internal displacement. The UK also provides further support to Zimbabwean migrants, including street children, in Zambia and South Africa. DFID will provide around £49 million of humanitarian and other essential support to the people of Zimbabwe this financial year, none of which goes through the Government of Zimbabwe.