Today June 20th, is World Refugee Day. Though it’s no cause for celebration, it is a time to spread awareness of the 45 million refugees there are worldwide and also welcome Dallas’ newest refugee. On Tuesday, one of our clients was granted affirmative asylum; he shared HRI that it was “the happiest day of his life.”
Manenji came to HRI from Zimbabwe in 2012. While working with a local NGO, Manenji was detained by President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party, the ZANU-PF, when he was delivering food to a village. After suffering physical abuse, receiving continuous threats on his life, and even witnessing his friend suffocate at the hands of their torturers, he was released and fled to the United States.
Zimbabwe has consistently shown a fundamental lack of human rights protections. Foreign Policy’s July 2010 issue shares, President “Mugabe has arrested and tortured the opposition, squeezed his economy into astounding negative growth and billion-percent inflation, and funneled off a juicy cut for himself using currency manipulation and offshore accounts.” Over 1 million Zimbabweans are without food and high unemployment does nothing to help food security. The government also has a history of attacking and harassing NGO workers, even banning those that provide basic humanitarian services.
We are elated that Manenji in now an asylee. He can now receive a social security card, find employment, and live in the United States free from persecution.