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Government slow to act on Zimbabwean HIV amnesty

Dr Jackie Blue
National Party Associate Health Spokeswoman

3 November 2006

Government slow to act on Zimbabwean HIV amnesty

The Labour Government has made no effort to communicate details of its HIV amnesty to the Zimbabwean community in New Zealand, says National’s Associate Health spokeswoman, Dr Jackie Blue.

“There is no sense of urgency following the Government’s announcement in August that Zimbabweans who test positive for HIV can remain in the country,” says Dr Blue.

The amnesty covers Zimbabwean refugees who entered the country between 2000 and 2004. It expires on February 28.

“We simply cannot have 800 unidentified refugees whose HIV status is a mystery – up to 200 of them could be HIV-positive.

“The Immigration Minister will not reveal the number of Zimbabweans who have tested positive for HIV as a result of the amnesty. His response is that the number ‘is so low that to give the information would impinge on the privacy of anyone concerned’. This reasoning is nonsense.

“Efforts to communicate with this community about the amnesty are virtually non-existent.

“Zimbabwe has a high rate of AIDS and while the Government’s offer was clearly a public health and humanitarian gesture, it was also an attempt to cover up its own embarrassment at its lack of action.

“Immigration New Zealand is not tracking where the Zimbabweans are residing, and details of public meetings have still not been confirmed.

“The Immigration Minister has said that the only other means of communication will be through Zimbabwean community websites - but I was unable to find any postings on the websites the Minister provided.”

--

Attached: Parliamentary questions 16290(2006), 15691(2006)


16290 (2006) Published - Immigration - Normal Reply
Question: Of the Zimbabweans who have come forward to have HIV testing since the Government's announcement that Zimbabweans who test positive for HIV will be allowed to stay in New Zealand, how many have tested positive; how many have permanent residence and how many have temporary visas?

Portfolio: Immigration
Minister: Hon David Cunliffe

Date Lodged:30/10/2006

Answer Text: The number of Zimbabweans who have tested positive for HIV, since the Government’s announcement that Zimbabweans who test positive for HIV will be allowed to stay in New Zealand, is so low that to give the information would impinge on the privacy of anyone concerned.

Attachment: None
Date Received:01/11/2006


15691 (2006) Published - Immigration - Normal Reply
Question: Further to the response to question for written answer 13996 (2006) what are the dates and locations of scheduled meetings in October and November that have been arranged with the Zimbabwean Community; what language is the information leaflet that will be distributed at these meetings; what are the web addresses of the Zimbabwean community websites in New Zealand?

Portfolio: Immigration
Minister: Hon David Cunliffe

Date Lodged:24/10/2006

Answer Text: The meetings with the Zimbabwean community are to be held in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, at dates still to be finalised. The information leaflet that will be distributed at these meetings is in English. Website addresses for the Zimbabwean community in New Zealand include:
www.zimpacific.com
www.africaonline.co.nz/ www.ethnicaffairs.govt.nz/oeawebsite.nsf/wpg_url/community-directory-Index?opendocument&cat=Z.

Attachment: None
Date Received:31/10/2006


ENDS

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