Zimbabweans set to be returned home

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Indy Politics

Enforced removals of failed asylum-seekers to Zimbabwe are to resume, three years after they were suspended due to the human rights record of Robert Mugabe's regime.

Enforced removals of failed asylum-seekers to Zimbabwe are to resume, three years after they were suspended due to the human rights record of Robert Mugabe's regime.

The Government said the decision follows evidence that the policy not to return asylum-seekers to Zimbabwe was being exploited by bogus claimants. But Maeve Sherlock, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: "We are concerned about the prospect of anyone being forcibly returned to Zimbabwe. No one should be sent back before monitoring procedures are in place."

The move was announced as Home Office figures showed that, including dependents, 10,385 claimed asylum in the third quarter of 2004, a rise of 13 per cent on the previous three months. A spokesman said the quarterly total was 29 per cent down on last year.

Ministers partly attributed the rise to more than 400 Eritreans claiming refuge after being smuggled into the country to work as "domestic slaves".

But the number of deportations of failed applicants fell 2 per cent to 3,085, the fourth quarter in a row in which numbers have fallen. The number of removals was also 15 per cent down on the same period last year.

Des Browne, the Immigration Minister, said: "There have been similar rises [in asylum-seekers] at this time of year for the past three years, but year on year the figures are continuing to fall."

But David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, said the statistics demonstrated the Government's asylum policy was "still a shambles".

The Government also announced yesterday that asylum-seeker families will no longer be able to avoid being dispersed to another part of Britain just because a child is settled at a particular school.

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