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Thursday, 10 July 2008

Our shame: official, imposed destitution

Protest by Zimbabwean refugees - the banner reads 'you take our nurses but not our wounded'

In a story buried in almost all the media, Gordon Brown has misled people on his government's attitude to Zimbabwean refugees.

According to the Press Association:
The deportation of failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe has now been halted, Gordon Brown said.

The Prime Minister told MPs that while officials continued to deal with the issue on a case-by-case basis, no returns were currently taking place.

“No-one is being forced to return to Zimbabwe from the United Kingdom at this time,” he said.

Mr Brown, who has been under pressure to stop the deportations in the wake of the violence surrounding the disputed presidential election, said that ministers were also looking to help failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers who were unable to work.
It is noticeable that the story fails to quote press statements such as by the Refugee Council's Donna Covey.

They were not deporting anyway because of a legal challenge - it’s not news, it's not some great act of charity, source G.Brown, which might please his Minister father.

What’s desperately needed is that the Zimbabweans in the UK are granted ‘leave to remain’ so they can work.

At the moment 11,000 are officially destitute. Many are homeless and begging. All are reliant on charity. This is intolerable.

What Brown said was, frankly, a lie.

This is what the Refugee Council said:
The Refugee Council will tomorrow accuse the government of “utter hypocrisy” as its Chief Executive, Donna Covey, addresses a rally outside Parliament calling on the government to give Zimbabwean asylum seekers leave to stay in the UK and allow them to work.

Thousands of Zimbabweans have been refused asylum in the UK, yet the government admits it is not safe to send them back. They are left homeless and destitute, with no entitlement to any support or the ability to work and support themselves.

It comes close to a charade for the Foreign Secretary to applaud the courage of refugees from Zimbabwe in South Africa, while in this country Zimbabwean refugees are being left to rot.

“The current situation amounts to a policy of saying to Zimbabweans, we won’t return you but our protection will amount to you being allowed to stay and beg on our streets.

“If the government had a shred of decency it would act now, to give Zimbabweans some temporary status in this country, allowing them to work and indeed to reskill so that they are better placed to help rebuild their country when the Mugabe regime falls.”
Unfortunately we have a strong anti-refugee movement led by the media outlets which aren't covering this or quoting the Refugee Council, and this is why it's so difficult to get pressure on G. Brown to do something about the situation of the Zimbabweans.

The government hides behind blatant falsehoods about their system's supposed 'fairness' but the reality is as I explained: official destitution.

They have merely suspended deportations to Harare but only after being forced to by being taken to court.

I and many Brits find this shameful. We live in the fifth biggest economy and most other European countries - or for that matter African countries - do not behave this way. At least they let people work.

And it's not just Zimbabweans. We are now sending refugees back to Darfur. And because the system which creates this is getting no media coverage, British people haven't a clue about what's being done in our name.

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