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Friday, 8 November, 2002, 06:14 GMT
Zimbabweans need visa to enter UK
Zimbabwe torture victim
Many Zimbabweans have been claiming asylum
Zimbabweans will now need a visa to enter the UK because of "very significant abuse" of Britain's immigration controls, the UK Government has said.

Zimbabweans will need a visa as from Saturday unless they have a right of abode in the UK, Home Secretary David Blunkett said.

The visa requirement would bring UK rules into line with the US, Canada and most of the EU, he added.

There has been an increase in Zimbabwe nationals arriving in Britain in recent months, amid upheaval in the southern African country and former British colony.


Large numbers are refused entry to the UK and returned, others are granted short term entry... but fail to return home

David Blunkett
Between April and June this year Zimbabweans made up the fourth largest group of asylum applicants in the UK at 1,345.

Mr Blunkett said Zimbabwean nationals had been abusing the UK's immigration controls.

"Large numbers" who were refused entry returned to Britain to try again, he said, while others who were granted short-term entry failed to return home when required.

In the first three months of this year, about 850 Zimbabweans were turned back at British airports because they could not convince immigration officials they were visiting for genuine reasons, officials said.

Zimbabwe retaliates

In the first half of 2002 about 400 Zimbabweans absconded after being granted temporary admission to the UK.

The Home Office was also receiving an "increasingly large" number of unfounded asylum claims from the country.

There have been 300 asylum claims at Gatwick airport alone in recent weeks.


The government has imposed a travel ban on British Prime Minister Tony Blair... to safeguard the country's sovereignty

Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation
Mr Blunkett said: "The visa programme will also make it much easier for genuine Zimbabwean visitors to travel to the UK.

"At present, because of the pressures on our immigration controls, they face lengthy queues and questioning on arrival."

Zimbabwe immediately retaliated in kind - all British passport holders will have to apply for visas before travelling to Zimbabwe as of Friday, it said.

The Zimbabwe Government also announced a total travel ban on "British Prime Minister Tony Blair, his cabinet, junior ministers and heads of his government departments".

President Mugabe and other Zimbabwean dignitaries have been banned from travel to the EU for some months, because of a presidential election in March which the EU and other western powers deemed illegitimate.


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07 Nov 02 | Africa
16 Oct 02 | Wales
14 Aug 02 | Politics
13 Aug 02 | Politics
15 Jan 02 | Politics
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