Detention Watch from Zimbabwe Association

LONDON - A new scheme has just been launched by the International Organisation of Migration (IOM), to encourage failed asylum seekers to return to their home countries voluntarily. Many nationalities are being targeted, including Zimbabweans, as part of a government initiative. This is such a wides

pread programme some members have seen poster adverts on the London tube.

A figure of up to 3,000 Pounds is being offered by IOM to each person who chooses to agree to return voluntarily to their home country. Applications have to be made by 31 May 2006. We understand that it only applies to people who applied for asylum before December 2005. A number of Zimbabweans have already received letters offering this deal. People in this position may wish to ring the ZA office for further discussion. It would also be useful to hear from anyone who has decided to accept the offer.

A constructive meeting with the Asylum Support Appeals Project last week has led to a better understanding of the benefits and financial support available to those in the asylum process. We intend to participate in their next training session and hope to be in a position to provide more information for our members facing problems of asylum support.

Other events of interest this week include the case of a person who was refused Section 4 (Hard Cases) support after having put in fresh representations following the AA ruling in October 2005. The person appealed against this refusal of support and the adjudicator found in their favour. The adjudicator’s statement confirmed that the AA ruling was likely to be accepted by the Secretary of State as reasonable grounds for a fresh claim. This is a positive sign and suggests other such fresh claims may be accepted.

Rumours of people saying they are going to make ‘opportunistic’ claims for asylum have been filtering through to us. We can only warn such people that there are many changes planned for the asylum system this year and suggest that they read such articles as “Asylum seekers face tough controls under new fast-track system” by Alan Travis, home affairs editor, Tuesday January 3, 2006, The Guardian, before making any hasty decisions. Anyone who is trying to regularise their immigration position is advised to take legal advice from a competent legal firm, law centre or Citizens Advice Bureau.

Seven Zimbabweans remain in detention to our knowledge. Those we have spoken to recently seem optimistic that their release is imminent.

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