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aid agencies in South Africa join hands
November 26, 2004
society agencies (CSOs) based in South Africa have resolved to join
hands to find a common approach to helping refugees who have fled
to the country to escape poverty and persecution under Robert Mugabe's
on humanitarian projects would coordinate their programmes under
the umbrella of the Heal Zimbabwe Trust, Tendai Dumbutshena, its
chairperson said today that after a weekend workshop in Braamfontein.
Those dealing with issues of advocacy and governance would unite
under the banner of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition. Each would
remain responsible for the financing and management of its own projects.
The 21 CSOs'
common goal was to create a genuinely democratic Zimbabwe, said
Dumbutshena. Of the 3.4 million Zimbabweans about 25% of the country's
population believed to have left the country, an estimated one to
two million were living in South Africa, legally and illegally,
they claimed. This was testimony that all was not well in Zimbabwe,
they added, criticising the South African government's "quiet
diplomacy" approach to the problem.
It was time the South African government was true to its commitment
to the guiding principles of the Southern African Development Community,
the African Union and its own foreign policy premised on the need
to uphold human rights throughout the world. Appealing to South
Africa to consider as genuine asylum seekers those who had fled
Zimbabwe because of political persecution or poverty, the organisations
said many refugees were having a hard time submitting their applications
to home affairs and getting them considered, claiming it processed
only about five a week.
destitute and were forced to beg on the streets, and some ended
up living in "awful conditions" in the Lindela repatriation
camp, said Elinor Sisulu, the co-ordinator of Crisis in Zimbabwe
would enable CSOs to avoid duplication of their work, develop common
approaches to donors, exchange ideas and support each other's visions,
giving them clarity of purpose and helping them come up with a common
agenda. As things stood, it was difficult to quantify the work done
on the humanitarian side since the upheaval began in 2000, with
much of it carried out through informal assistance networks in a
fragmented way, said Sisulu. Most of the CSOs were also relatively
new, she said. - Sapa
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