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Arrest and deportation of Zimbabweans from Botswana
Zimbabwe Exiles Forum
October 30, 2006

The Zimbabwe Exiles Forum is deeply disturbed by fresh reports of mass arrests and deportations of Zimbabweans seeking refuge in Botswana. A new wave of arrests commenced on 23 October 2006, dubbed by the Botswana authorities as a crackdown on all illegal immigrants. However, the campaign apparently targeted Zimbabweans, according to media reports, raising deep concerns of discrimination against Zimbabweans.

As a watchdog for the recognition, protection and promotion of the human rights of Zimbabweans in exile, ZEF is dismayed by the failure of governments in the SADC region to acknowledge the Zimbabwe crisis. These continued deportations show a complete disregard for the protection of Zimbabweans fleeing from political violence, torture and persecution at home. The arrests are indiscriminate thereby victimizing Zimbabweans with genuine asylum-seeking agenda. It appears the only criteria is that if you are Zimbabwean you will be deported. For some Zimbabweans, it is like a death sentence, as they originally escaped death in Zimbabwe.

ZEF implores the Botswana government in particular and SADC leaders in general to deal with the root causes of the Zimbabwean crisis rather than to deport Zimbabweans. The region and the international community must acknowledge that the situation in Zimbabwe has reached fever-pitch and address it before it explodes.

Gabriel Shumba
Executive Director & Human Rights Lawyer

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