Just days after the Home Office announced that it now considered Zimbabwe safe enough to resume forced deportations and that it was to offer an enhanced version of its Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) package for Zimbabweans, the UK Borders Agency has apparently quietly suspended scheduled deportation flights following strong protestations from the MCD-UK.
The standard AVR package is administered by the International Organisation for Migration and consists of £4,000 for vocational training, assistance in setting up a business and the cost of a flight home. Since February the package for Zimbabweans has been supplemented with an extra £2,000 of reintegration assistance, made up of £500 cash on departure, an extra £1,000 ‘in kind’ assistance for business set-up, a £500 basic subsistence package and cholera prevention kits. The new plans replace the £1,000 ‘in kind’ assistance with a phased series of cash payments over 6 months.
Those who refuse to accept these 'voluntary' packages of course are forcibly returned with no 'assistance' at all. Now the MDC's chief representative in London, Jonathan Chawora, has persuaded the UK government that the situation in Zimbabwe is not as stable as they had claimed and that "the situation is not yet ideal for any Zimbabwean to be deported because of the renewed surge in violence perpetrated by ZANU PF." The situation will be reviewed in January 2010.