(27 June 2005 - RV) Pope Benedict XVI today received representatives from the Bishops'
Conference of Zimbabwe, who are in Rome for their Ad Limina visits. Zimbabwe has
been under control of President Robert Mugabe since 1987, and has increasing been
criticised both at home and from abroad for a neglect of human rights. Zimbabwe's
bishops have been outspoken in their criticism of Mugabe's recent "Operation Restore
Order", which has driven tens of thousands of people from their homes in a bid to
clear illegal shanty towns. The bishops warned that people's dignity and human
rights are being violated, and have demanded an immediate end to the operation. Meanwhile
in Britain, dozens of Zimbabweans in detention centres are on hunger strike in the
face of possible repatriation to their country. We asked Patrick O'Donaghue, president
of the Refugee Office of the Catholic Bishops' Conference for England and Wales, about
the reasons behind this move...