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Statement on Zimbabwean Asylum Seekers From Bishop Peter Moran  

The Archbishop of Bulawayo, Archbishop Pius Ncube was recently awarded the first Robert Burns Humanitarian Award. In his acceptance speech at Culzean Castle in Ayrshire, he raised his concerns about the forced return of ˜failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe saying;  

˜It also saddens me that the British Government since September last year has embarked on forced repatriation of Zimbabweans who are asylum seekers. They fled from harassment, torture, and a threat to their lives and they will be made to suffer when they are returned. Some Zimbabweans are handcuffed, jailed and badly treated here in Britain. And as Great Britain is a highly respected country in the world, I am afraid that this attitude will be followed in other wealthier Commonwealth countries, as happened with the imposition of the visa on Zimbabweans in November 2002. I plead that you be patient with Zimbabweans till the situation normalises.  

The Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Scotland has grave concerns about the whole asylum system but we wish to highlight our concerns about the situation facing Zimbabweans seeking asylum today. We think that there is a strong case for a moratorium on returns. We hope that the United Nations and the African Union will look into the situation and do what they can to restore respect for human rights in Zimbabwe. Reports suggest that the British government is in fact reviewing the situation or even operating a moratorium without announcing it, this would be welcome but a clear statement of government policy is required.  

Speaking earlier this month on the eve of World Refugee Day Pope Benedict XVI said that World Refugee Day s purpose was ˜to keep alive attention on the problems of those who must forcibly abandon their homeland. The theme this year, "The Courage to Be a Refugee," underlines the strength of spirit needed by those who must leave everything, at times even their families, to escape from grave difficulties and dangers. The Christian community feels close to those who live this painful condition; it exerts itself to support them and manifests in different ways its interest and love, which is translated into concrete gestures of solidarity.  

We must show solidarity with our sisters and brothers from Zimbabwe and offer a welcome to the stranger in need in our midst.  

+ Peter A Moran  
Bishop of Aberdeen  
President, Justice & Peace Commission Bishops Conference of Scotland  

For further information contact Richard McCready, National Secretary, Justice and Peace Commission on 01382 641241 or 07711 920 760  

ENDS  


Peter Kearney  
Director  
Catholic Media Office  
5 St. Vincent Place  
Glasgow  
G1 2DH  
0141 221 1168  
pk@scmo.org  
www.scmo.org  

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