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Removal of 14 people to Zimbabwe is a ‘sinister escalation’ of Britain’s deportation regime campaigners warn

THE removal of 14 people to Zimbabwe on Wednesday is a “sinister escalation” in Britain’s deportation regime, campaigners warned today as they vowed to fight a wave of upcoming charter flights. 

The flight left Stansted at around 10.30pm on Wednesday evening with only around a third of the passengers the Home Office had hoped to deport, following a series of successful legal actions. 

Campaigners told the Morning Star that on arrival to Harare, the deportees were taken into quarantine at an undisclosed location.

Their families were also not given any information, fuelling worries about their safety, said human rights campaigner Zita Holbourne, who has been supporting those facing deportation. 

The flight is believed to be the first of several agreed as part of a deal between the British government and Zimbabwe. 

The Home Office celebrated the removals today, hailing its deportation deal with the repressive regime as a “historic landmark agreement.” 

It went ahead despite warnings of a deteriorating human rights record in the repressive country. 

The flight also marks the beginning of a “summer season” of charter flights to countries including Vietnam and Jamaica, according to reports.

But campaigners have vowed to “fight on” to resist the deportations. 

“This flight is part of a sinister escalation of the UK deportation regime which we will continue to resist,” Bail for Immigration Detainees research and policy co-ordinator Rudy Schulkind said. 

“Every charter flight is a tragedy that traumatises and permanently separates children from their parents.”

A spokesperson from Zimbabwe Human Rights Organisation (ZHRO) said the Home Office’s action was “completely political,” and vowed to continue providing legal representation to those in detention. 

Ms Holbourne called for the public to “lobby their MPs, challenge the organisations that are complicit, take action between the times when there are charter flights and reach out to communities who are directly impacted in advance.”

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