Posted on August 18, 2010 | Category: Politics; Business, Sport
THE British coalition government has intensified its efforts to deport asylum seekers from Zimbabwe as it has sent a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe to assess “the situation on the ground”.
The new government of Conservative leader Mr David Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Mr Nick Clegg sent a joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office and UK Border Agency fact-finding team to Zimbabwe last week.
They will return to the UK tomorrow.
A UKBA official told the Zimbabwe Guardian on Tuesday that the team would “obtain up-to-date information about the situation on the ground for use in determining the risk on return of Zimbabwean asylum claimants.”
The coalition government’s move follows reassurances given by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
On his trip to the UK in 2009, Prime Minister Tsvangirai said the situation in the country had improved and urged Zimbabweans to return home.
The move will affect those who have been granted asylum and those whose asylum cases are still being considered, according to the official.
“The Home Office (UKBA) will review all asylum cases whether they have been granted or not,” said the official.
“There have been reports that there has been an improvement on the situation in Zimbabwe; but let’s wait for the fact-finding group to produce its report.”
The fact-finding team held meetings with various organisations in the country, including civil society representatives, in Harare last week, before going to Bulawayo on Sunday.
The move will affect thousands of Zimbabweans who have sought political asylum in the UK and have been refused or granted.
It is estimated that about 200 000 people from Zimbabwe have claimed asylum in the UK.
A report by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees estimated that more than 158 000 Zimbabweans had applied for asylum in 2009 alone. Most of those who sought asylum last year were in South Africa.
In September 2006 the UK Home Office announced that it would be halting enforced returns to Zimbabwe, and it is still not enforcing the return of Zimbabwean nationals.
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