South Africa to resume deporting Zimbabweans

Zimbabweans queuing to enter South Africa (file photo)
Image caption Thousands of Zimbabweans fled political persecution and poverty

South Africa is to start expelling Zimbabweans again, from 31 December, the government has announced, ending their special status.

The deportations were halted in April 2009 following an influx of those fleeing political instability and economic meltdown in Zimbabwe.

An estimated two million Zimbabweans are thought to be in South Africa.

Their presence is one reason cited for outbreaks of xenophobic attacks in recent years.

Sixty-two people were killed in such attacks in 2008 and there were fears of renewed violence after the end of the football World Cup in July.

Human rights groups have condemned the South African government's decision, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Zimbabwe exile groups fear that anyone forced to return could still face persecution.

Annah Moyo, a Zimbabwean human rights lawyer living in South Africa, told AP that violence could resume ahead of elections due in 2011.

Zimbabwe's power-sharing government has stabilised the situation to some extent, however, the vast majority of people continue to live in extreme poverty.

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