Monday, August 13, 2007

Nope, no refugees here, folks, move along

Sir, Thousands of Zimbabwean citizens are fleeing to South Africa daily as their country collapses, yet the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, like the South African Government, does not recognise them as refugees and is doing nothing to help them. According to the UNHCR spokesman these are “economic refugees, not refugees as defined by international convention”. He adds that the UNHCR could only be involved “in the case of the total collapse of the Zimbabwe State”. We must now presumably wait for that before acting.

The South African Government claims that the Zimbabweans streaming into South Africa are not refugees as they are not facing persecution in their own country; no special measures are necessary. The UNHCR agrees, adding that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe. Meanwhile, 100,000 per month cross into South Africa and 86,000 were forcibly deported back again between January and May this year alone, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

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