Zimbabwe: Asylum

International Development written question – answered on 18 December 2007.

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Photo of Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Shadow Secretary of State for International Development

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his most recent estimate is of the number of Zimbabwean refugees in countries neighbouring Zimbabwe.

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Parliamentary Under-Secretary(Department for International Development) (Trade Policy) (also Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform), Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) (Trade and Consumer Affairs) (also Department for International Development), Party Chair, Co-operative Party

It is estimated that between 1.1 million and 3 million Zimbabweans are living in countries neighbouring Zimbabwe. Reliable figures are hard to obtain as many Zimbabweans have crossed borders illegally. The UN and governments in host countries consider most of those who have left Zimbabwe to be economic migrants. As economic migrants they are not recognised as refugees nor protected under various international conventions governing the treatment of refugees. Over 160,000 Zimbabweans were deported from South Africa up to the end of October 2007, already a significant increase on the numbers deported in the whole of 2006.

DFID is supporting the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to provide humanitarian assistance to Zimbabweans deported from South Africa through the Beitbridge Reception Centre. IOM provides information on how to migrate legally and safely through its nationwide 'Safe Migration' campaign. We have recently approved a programme to support and protect Zimbabwean children in Limpopo Province in South Africa. The UK Government are also providing humanitarian assistance to Zimbabweans in Johannesburg through the British High Commission in Pretoria.

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Paul M
Posted on 19 Dec 2007 2:54 pm (Report this annotation)

Its all fair and fine to list the wonderful help the Uk is giving to refugees returned to Zimbabwe and paint a picture of oneness with the Zimbabwean people. However closer to home the UK continues to treat asylum seekers for Zimbabwe with the utmost contempt, which borders on infringing their Human rights. As recently as November the government won the latest round in a protracted battle to deem Zimbabwe safe enought to send failed asylum seekers there. By any stretch of the imagination Zimbabwe is not safe. The people residing there live in fear or are the ones causing this fear. If the UK government really wants to show solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe then stand with them during their darkest hour. Our shared history and destiny demand it.