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forced to leave Zimbabwe in spite of worsening humanitarian crisis
Medair - Switzerland
November 26, 2004
It is with real sadness
that after 2 years Medair has this week left Zimbabwe. The final
move which forced the decision was the refusal by the Zimbabwean
government to issue work permits for our 2 remaining senior expatriate
This follows months in
which we had seen our temporary registration to continue our school
feeding programmes in Gokwe North and Mudzi districts expire and
not be renewed despite our best efforts, and all remaining expatriate
staff refused work permits. Unable to work and consequently to fund
our continued presence, we were left with no choice but to finally
withdraw from the country.
The timing of this decision
is all the more significant because of the deteriorating economic
and humanitarian situation within the country. On the 15th of November
the Famine Early Warning System Network for Zimbabwe (FEWS) reasserted
their prediction that 2.2 million rural households would require
food aid before the end of the year. Indeed, earlier this month
World Food Programme (WFP) reported falling school attendances in
Mudzi district as parents took their children out of school to work
in the fields or find food. This was highlighted as a direct result
of the halting of the Medair school feeding programme in August
after our registration renewal was refused by the government.
'We'd really hoped to
continue the school feeding programme in partnership with WFP, but
instead we found ourselves prevented from distributing, and so the
food has sat deteriorating in the warehouses since August. It's
been so frustrating not being free to work and now we leave knowing
the increasing food insecurity that faces those primary school children
and their families', said Mark Screeton, Medair Desk Officer for
At this time of great
need our thoughts remain with the beneficiaries we have tried to
serve in Zimbabwe over the last 2 years, and with our great local
staff who have worked tirelessly, and who now find themselves unemployed
at a time of national economic crisis.
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