UK to handle failed asylums seekers with care

ambassador_canningHARARE - The resumption of enforced returns of Zimbabweans with no legal right to be in the UK - after a four-year moratorium -- will be done in a very sensitive way, the UK's ambassador to Harare has said. (Pictured: Ambassador Mark Canning and DfiD boss Dave Fish addressin

The UK courts imposed a moratorium on deportations to Zimbabwe in 2006 amid concerns the country was not safe. The moratorium was briefly lifted in 2008, but the UK Home Office did not resume enforced returns immediately, after concerns that the situation in Zimbabwe was still volatile amid a hotly contested election.

Some 13,000 Zimbabweans have sought asylum in the UK over the past five years and only a third were granted asylum.

Ambassador Mark Canning told a media briefing at the UK embassy in Harare last week that the UK Border Agency will soon organise the first flights – but only after the legal hurdles have been cleared. ?

“About six weeks ago the British government announced its intention in time when a number of legal hurdles had been gone through to resume the return of failed asylum seekers from the UK,” Canning said. “But I do emphasise that a number of legal hurdles have got to be negotiated before that happens. And when and if it happens, it will be done in the way that you would expect, careful and sensitive to the individuals concerned, conditions of the individual.”

The UK diplomat said at the moment, Zimbabwe was the only country in the world to which his country did not return failed asylum seekers. “We return them to Iraq, to Afghanistan but we dont to Zimbabwe.” Canning explained that the moratorium was because up to a certain point, it was judged not safe to deport Zimbabweans, “but now the conditions are now judged to have changed.He added: But as I say, this is a sensitive issue. It will be taken forward in a very sensitive way.”

The ambassador said the decision to resume enforced returns reflected the improved stability in Zimbabwe since 2009 and the UK court’s view that not all Zimbabweans are in need of international protection.Deportation is a hot and emotive topic, and Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s call in London last year to exiled Zimbabweans to return home and help rebuild their country was met with an angry response.

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