HL Deb 08 July 2003 vol 651 cc28-9WA
Lord Avebury

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why they are sending letters to those claiming refuge from Zimbabwe and their representatives saying that "Zimbabwe has now been deemed as `safe to return'" and advising them to sign up to the voluntary assisted returns programme. [HL3742]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal

All claims for asylum from Zimbabwean nationals are considered on their own individual merits. Where a claim is refused and any appeal dismissed we consider it safe for that person to return to Zimbabwe. Although we are not at present enforcing the return of failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe we are encouraging voluntary returns. As part of this, we are promoting the voluntary assisted return and reintegration programme (VARRP).

The letter to which the noble Lord refers has been amended to make it clear that there has not been a change in the Home Office's policy on Zimbabwe.