In response to the government’s announcement today that it is considering forced removals to Zimbabwe, Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:
“It is ludicrous that the UK Government has decided to consider forcing Zimbabweans to return to their country, where in the past few days allegations of arrest, intimidation and harassment of supporters of the MDC and of human rights defenders have been widely reported. Our Government is showing a cavalier attitude to the safety of refugees who have stood up for democracy and human rights. After the farcical attempts to return Iraqis and Afghans in recent weeks against UN advice, it is of great concern that the government are now considering returns to Zimbabwe.
“It seems particularly inappropriate given Morgan Tsvangirai has begun boycotting the power sharing arrangement and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture was deported yesterday.
“The extension and improvements to the help available to Zimbabweans who wish to return home of their own accord are welcome. However this has to be kept separate from attempts to begin forced removals. There were 89 returns under this programme from January to August this year, the equivalent to around 11 per month. This small number reflects the fear Zimbabweans continue to have about returning to their country which, however you look at it, is still ruled by Robert Mugabe.”