In the beginning
Since October 2001 the ZA has been run on a mainly voluntary basis by a group of Zimbabweans in the UK. We started by campaigning for an end to detention of Zimbabwean asylum seekers and their removal to Zimbabwe. On 15 January 2002 removals were stopped and Zimbabweans were no longer automatically detained.
On 16 November 2004 the Home Office ended the suspension of removals to Zimbabwe, and began removing ‘failed’ asylum seekers to Zimbabwe. In July 2005 forcible removal of Zimbabweans stopped pending the outcome of the AA case (Country Guidance for Zimbabwe). Three years of litigation followed ending with the RN ruling in November 2008 which recognized that “all those unable to demonstrate loyalty to Zimbabwe’s ruling regime will be at risk of persecution if removed back to their country”.
Since November 2008 we have been faced with a huge increase in numbers of Zimbabweans claiming asylum. In addition, ten thousand cases which formed part of the Legacy backlog are now being looked at. Problems with processing documentation meant some people were given refugee status, support was withdrawn and they were faced with destitution as – without the correct documents – they are still unable to work.
2010 – Current problems
Ongoing political problems continue to prevent many Zimbabweans from returning voluntarily to their homeland.
The situation within the UK has become more difficult. Large numbers of asylum seekers are in a state of destitution. Thousands are still awaiting the resolution of their asylum cases. The closure of Refugee and Migrant Justice has shocked the sector, and greatly reduced available legal aid. Long-term immigration detainees remain incarcerated. A new Country Guidance case will be heard shortly.
In this time of uncertainty, the focus of ZA remains on directing people to sources of help and competent legal representation and highlighting the problems faced by asylum seekers.
To promote the fundamental freedoms, human rights and welfare of all Zimbabweans regardless of political opinion, race, tribe, gender, age, religion, or sexual orientation, particularly those currently in the United Kingdom, and with priority attention to those seeking asylum in the UK.