Zimbabwe closes borders to refugees and illegal immigrantsBy KITSEPILE NYATHI | Wednesday, July 20 2011 at 07:17
Zimbabwe’s immigration officials say they have instructed their officers at border posts not to accept illegal immigrants and refugees seeking to enter into the country.
The ban is targeted at refugees mainly from Somalia and Ethiopia whom Zimbabwe accuses of using the country as a transit point to South Africa.
The government-owned Herald newspaper on Tuesday reported that five border posts usually used by the Ethiopian and Somali immigrants had been instructed not to allow refugees into the country.
"We are not accepting such people since they refused to be given refugee status,” Mr Evans Siziba, an assistant regional immigration officer.
"All along they were coming into the country seeking refugee status before disappearing.
"We realised that they were using this country as transit to South Africa and were not waiting for the process to be accepted as refugees.
"That is the reason why we have instructed or closed our borders for them not to be accepted.”
He said the refugees spent a maximum of 48 hours in Zimbabwe before disappearing into neighbouring countries such as South Africa.
Refugees from countries such as Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Burundi have been crossing to South Africa through Zimbabwe because the border between the two countries is considered to be very porous.
The refugees take advantage of human traffic syndicates that take desperate illegal Zimbabwean immigrants to South Africa on a daily basis.
Zimbabwe has in the past rounded up the illegal immigrants and thrown them into jail where they complain that authorities take long to deport them back to their home countries.
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