3 million immigrants yet to be classified

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An estimated three million Zimbabwean immigrants, who left at the height of the country’s political and economic meltdown, are yet to be classified while some 24 089 have been registered as refugees.

United States embassy regional refugee coordinator Mark Weinberg last Friday said of the three million people that fled Zimbabwe, the bulk was running away from economic problems, hence they did not qualify for refugee status.

“A vast majority of Zimbabweans left due to economic reasons, but there are others who fled because of persecution after expressing their political opinions,” he said.

Weinberg, who was speaking during a presentation on refugee issues in southern Africa at the US embassy in Harare, said 2 408 676 people in Africa were refugees,

146 162 of them in southern Africa.

“There are clearly people in Zimbabwe who have faced persecution because of political opinion. People have been arrested and killed and we know that is true.

“However, now Zimbabwe is in a more peaceful period than in 2008, it proves their main reason for leaving Zimbabwe was that they were facing specific threats from government or even someone else,” he said.

“A total of 4 500 refugees are in Zimbabwe and I am impressed by the refugee system in this country. For instance, Tongogara Refugee Camp hosts Congolese refugees who have been there for more than 10 years and some of them have developed into professionals and are working in the big cities of Zimbabwe,” Weinberg said.