Refugee Council in attempt to reverse Zimbabwe decision

The Refugee Council is working to reverse the Government's decision to send failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers home by liaising with 12 Zimbabwean community organisations to gather evidence that returnees are facing state brutality.

The Home Office announced on 16 November that it would end its two-year suspension on sending unsuccessful asylum seekers back to Zimbabwe.

"There couldn't be a worse time to start it again," said Maeve Sherlock, the charity's chief executive. "The forthcoming elections and the clampdown on NGOs have made the climate particularly difficult. This is a very bad time for highly visible returnees to be sent back."

But Home Office minister Des Browne said the system had been "exploited by Zimbabweans and other foreign nationals posing as Zimbabweans, who do not need international protection".

The charity said 10 asylum seekers had been forced back already. It will continue talks with community organisations that work with Zimbabwean refugees and exiles in the UK to collate powerful anecdotal evidence demonstrating the dangers of the policy shift.

It expects to present the evidence to the Government within weeks.

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