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Operation Murambatsvina - Countrywide evictions of urban poor - Index of articles
Bertha Shoko, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
June 19, 2005
THERE is no
doubt that "Operation Murambatsvina", also now being derisively
referred to as Tsunami - after the devastation that occurred last
year in parts of South East Asia - has caused untold suffering to
Many people have been left homeless after their houses and cottages,
condemned as "illegal" by the government, were destroyed. Informal
traders such as furniture manufacturers, flea market traders and
street vendors have also been left without sources of income after
they were caught in the web of the operation.
operation last week spread to rural areas and small towns such as
Bindura, Murehwa and Seke leaving thousands more displaced and the
devastation is serious.
made by StandardHealth during the past few weeks have revealed a
serious humanitarian crisis because many of the displaced families
have turned destitute and are spending nights in the open where
they are exposed to the cold with no access to proper sanitation,
medical care and health facilities.
farm, where displaced families in Harare were dumped to await relocation
by the government, conditions are overcrowded and health experts
say there is an urgent need for a clinic.
In rural Bindura
town, home to the country's first woman Vice President, Joice Mujuru,
displaced gold panners and their families have spent the last two
weeks - living like wild animals in the open with their newly born
babies and school-going children. There is need for urgent help
for this mining community in Bindura's Kitsiyatota area where a
disease outbreak is looming.
From an HIV
and AIDS perspective, the situation at hand is grave. The effects
of the operation on People Living With HIV and AIDS (PLWAs) and
affected families is immeasurable.
Being far removed
from health facilities and living in the open with no access to
proper sanitation has left many of the PLWAs prone to disease, with
no access to medical care when they need it. While it is strongly
recommended that PLWAs seek treatment quickly for any opportunistic
infections, the prevailing situation has made this almost impossible.
It is feared
many of the indigent PLWA's who have been displaced lack the resources
to relocate or seek alternative accommodation. This, invariably
leads to more stress and anxiety, a state of mind which could quicken
progression from HIV to AIDS.
The loss of
income for the informal sector, particularly vendors and flea market
traders, will no doubt increase women and girls' vulnerability to
HIV infection as some will be forced to resort to commercial sex
to earn a living.
organisations are convinced that the government has created a humanitarian
crisis by forcing thousands out of accommodation and not offering
them an alternative.
Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) has said it "deplores
in the strongest possible terms" the ongoing operation that has
left many families displaced.
action by the government of Zimbabwe has precipitated a humanitarian
crisis against a background of severe food shortages and 70% unemployment
levels ... of particular concern to ZADHR is the impact that this
campaign is having on children and families infected or affected
by AIDS...," said ZADHR.
by the government of Zimbabwe is a clear violation of international
conventions including the International Conventions on the Rights
of the Child, the African Charter and the Universal Declaration
on Human Rights, to all of which Zimbabwe is a signatory…"
of this operation, certainly has far reaching consequences and is
not good news for any HIV and AIDS activist. Human rights organisations
and those involved in Aids work should not only condemn this operation
but also move in to help and assist affected families throughout
the country as a matter of emergency.
Failure to do
so will be a great crime to humanity and a loss to all the efforts
and great strides that have been made on the AIDS front these past
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