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South African Bishop Hails Pretoria Promise Of Refugee Policy Review

A leading advocate for Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa on Sunday welcomed an announcement by the country's Home Affairs Department saying that although the ministry's hands are legally tied as to granting political asylum to Zimbabweans, it intends to review its policies on granting temporary residence to economic migrants.

The Home Affairs statement said the department receives many applications for asylum but that do not qualify under the law. It made the statement in response to a call from Human Rights Watch to grant Zimbabwean refugees temporary living status and work rights.

Methodist Bishop Paul Verryn, whose Central Methodist church in Johannesburg has taken in more than a thousand Zimbabwean political and economic refugees, told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 that in the case of Zimbabwe the distinction between political and economic refugees is "pedantic" given the level of suffering in that country.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...