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Volume 407: debated on Wednesday 25 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has received on Zimbabwe Government pensioners in the United Kingdom not receiving their pensions; and if he will make a statement. [121206]

We receive regular representation from pensioners in the UK who are not being paid their Zimbabwean Government pensions. Our High Commission in Harare speaks regularly to the Zimbabwean pension authorities, reminding them of their obligations to pay these pensions in full and on time. The Zimbabwean authorities say that the current lack of foreign currency in the country means that they can no longer pay pensioners living outside of Zimbabwe. All payments to pensioners living in the UK were suspended from January this year. Regrettably, this situation is unlikely to change until Zimbabwe's economy improves.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with sub-Saharan African counterparts regarding the situation in (a) Zimbabwe and (b) the Great Lakes region. [121288]

We are in regular contact with African leaders on Zimbabwe. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed the crisis there with Botswana's President Mogae in London on 11 June; and with South Africa's President Mbeki in South Africa on 14 May. We support regional efforts to promote inter-party dialogue as a first step towards restoring good governance and economic prosperity in Zimbabwe.We regularly discuss the situation in the Great Lakes with regional governments including Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa and Angola. We remain concerned about the Democratic Republic of the Congo, particularly the humanitarian crisis in the north-eastern Ituri region. We were active in encouraging the governments of Rwanda and Uganda to respond positively to the UN Secretary General's request to send an Interim Emergency Multinational Force to Bunia (Ituri region).

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent measures have been taken to support British citizens in Zimbabwe. [121301]

The British High Commission in Harare provides guidance and assistance to British nationals resident in Zimbabwe and those visiting the country. It offers a full range of consular services.The High Commission also runs a website enabling it to maintain good communications with the resident British community. The Consul visits the main regional centres at regular intervals to offer advice to those unable to travel to Harare.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what provision is being made to assist the repatriation to the United Kingdom of former British nationals whose Zimbabwean passports and residents' stamps have been withdrawn. [120610]

We have a civil contingency plan for Zimbabwe, as we do for many other countries which can be activated if there is an emergency affecting the safety of British nationals. Any evacuation would be a last resort and by whatever means available at the time.Anyone wishing to move to the UK to take up residence who is not a British citizen will need to arrange this before leaving Zimbabwe. Anyone wishing to resume British citizenship can do this by submitting their original Declaration of Renunciation form, evidence of their present nationality and a completed application form for Registration as a British citizen, to the British High Commission in Harare, together with the current fees. The Home Office is responsible for considering such applications. If successful, a Certificate of Registration will be issued after which a British passport may be applied for.All those with a valid British citizen passport are free to enter the UK for an indefinite period.