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humanitarian chief says Zimbabwe has complex emergency
July 22, 2005
With a United Nations
report out today saying the Zimbabwean Government has evicted 700,000
people from urban housing, the UN humanitarian aid chief said the country’s
emergency is complex and also includes high unemployment, widespread food
insecurity and 25 per cent of the population living with HIV/AIDS.
Giving a news briefing
at the UN complex in Geneva, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian
Affairs Jan Egeland said that while the Zimbabwean authorities believed
the urban evictions were improving the towns and cities, no alternative
plans had been made for those being removed from their "improvised
homes," leading to a human tragedy.
In addition, millions
were experiencing food insecurity, 70 per cent of the 13 million population
was unemployed and 1 million children were AIDS orphans, he said.
The UN World Food
Programme (WFP) has fed between 1 million and 2 million people so far
this year, the fourth year of drought, after feeding 4.5 million people
last year and over 5 million in 2003, Mr. Egeland noted.
This year’s WFP
total would have to be much higher, but there has been "a desperate
lack of funding" for aid to Zimbabwe, he said. AIDS orphans and victims
in Zimbabwe received only a fraction of the assistance that went to infected
people and orphans in its neighbours, he added.
According to a mid-year
report from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF),
Zimbabwe, "enduring the country's worst humanitarian situation since
independence a quarter of a century ago," requested $ 7.5 million
and received $1.6 million. "This has led to the world's fastest rise
in child mortality – 22 per cent," it said.
Mr. Egeland said the
humanitarian principle was to help those who needed aid, wherever they
were, at the same time speaking very bluntly about the policies of Governments
which trampled on human rights.
The UN Office for
the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA),
which he heads, said UNICEF’s assistance to evicted Zimbabweans has included
42,000 water purification tablets, 10,000 blankets and 2.5 tons of soap.
The WFP has redirected
1.4 tons of food and the International Organization for Migration (IOM)
has distributed more than 40,000 blankets and other supplies, OCHA said.
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA)
has provided reproductive health materials and the Office of the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
was helping 2,500 refugees in Tongogara Camp, as well as aiding refugees
and asylum-seekers who have been arrested, it said.
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