CAMPAIGNERS fear asylum seekers could be deported imminently after being interviewed and photographed by Zimbabwean officials.
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On Monday, the Echo reported dozens of Zimbabwean asylum seekers had been summoned to Southend police station to be interviewed.
Campaigner Stanford Biti, who moved to Southend from Zimbabwe in 2006, said at the interviews, asylum seekers were made to fill out applications for Zimbabwe passports and photographed.
He said: “They started by taking your photograph then got you to fill in a form for a Zimbabwean passport.
“Then they asked you a few questions about why you could not go back to the country.
“Everyone must report back to the police station next month and the fear is that they will be detained and presented with a Zimbabwean passport before being deported.
“People are very scared and upset that they may be detained in the next two weeks.
“On average, most people have been here for more than 15 years. One man, who is 75-years-old and is well known in the community, has been here for 25 years.
“They have all fled in fear for their lives because of the political situation in Zimbabwe.”
Mr Biti, who campaigns with Communities and Sanctuary Seekers Together (Cast), based in Southend, has said the group will be organising a petition and a demonstration in the town.
Both MPs for Southend have urged those with concerns to get in touch.
James Duddridge, MP for Rochford and Southend East who recently condemned the situation in Zimbabwe in Parliament, said: “I reached out to Stanford Biti and Cast and have arranged to meet with him and those currently affected.
“My hope is that we can work towards actionable outcomes that can provide some reassurances to the Zimbabwean community in Southend.
“I would like to encourage any Zimbabwean asylum seekers who live in Rochford and Southend East who are currently affected to contact me.”
MP for Southend West, David Amess, said: “If any constituent has a complaint to make about the process, I would like to hear from them. I deal with immigration and asylum matters all the time. Legal immigrants have nothing whatsoever to fear from the authorities, just as is the case with legitimate asylum seekers.”-Echo