No change for Zimbabweans on work - Refugee Council
September 22, 2008

No change for Zimbabweans on work

By Tim, Director of Communications

During the conference season of the last few weeks, the Refugee Council has been pushing the “Let them Work” campaign, often with Zimbabweans sharing the platform. Of course, the ban on work extends to all asylum seekers, but Zimbabweans have been at the forefront of the campaign because as a group they are well qualified, have skills that make them eminently employable and they speak excellent English. Frankly put, stopping Zimbabweans from working is particularly stupid, and through highlighting their plight the campaign call – that all asylum seekers should be allowed to work – can be brought home to people in a very vivid way.

In recent weeks, we have heard from Zimbabwean community groups which have been inundated by calls from their members who’ve heard rumours that the government is making a concession on the right to work for Zimbabweans. The Refugee Council’s policy people have checked out the situation with officials and the message is, sadly, very clear. There is NO change in the current position. Neither a change in policy nor practice. In some very limited circumstances, people claiming asylum, whose claims are taking a very long time to process, can apply for permission to work. But that situation has existed ever since the general ban on asylum seekers working was imposed in 2002. So to repeat, there has been NO change with regard to Zimbabweans.

This is very frustrating for the many thousands of people affected by this policy. What we have to do, therefore, is redouble our efforts through the Let them Work campaign and allied campaigns, like Still Human, Still Here, to put pressure on the government to do the sensible and decent thing. It’s likely to be a long fight, but it is one we can win.

For details on the limited circumstances in which an asylum seeker can get permission to work, click here.