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  • Operation Murambatsvina - Countrywide evictions of urban poor - Index of articles

  • ZIMBABWE: MSF gets go-ahead to help victims of urban cleanup
    IRIN News
    October 03, 2005

    JOHANNESBURG - The government of Zimbabwe and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Holland have signed an agreement allowing the international NGO to provide medical assistance to people displaced two months ago during Operation Murambatsvina ('Drive out Filth'), the government's controversial clean-up campaign.

    Health minister David Parirenyatwa told IRIN that the agreement would allow MSF medical and relief teams to begin operations in the Whitecliffe, Hopely and Hatcliffe areas around the capital, Harare. He said the government was aware that many displaced families were facing problems and lacked access to food, water and sanitation facilities.

    "The agreement allows MSF to work in conjunction with the Harare city council's health department. Staff from the department will be attached to MSF health teams in the affected areas," Parirenyatwa told IRIN.

    Steve Hide, the MSF head of mission in Zimbabwe, said he expected conditions similar to those in camps around Epworth and Chitungwiza, also near Harare, where MSF had ongoing programmes.

    "We have not been allowed into the new areas as yet, but we expect the situation to be equally bad: poor sanitation, the lack of ablution facilities and the absence of basic healthcare services are still the major challenges in any displaced people's camp," Hide commented. "We will be providing clean water, ablution facilities and mobile clinic services for five days every week."

    MSF already had two mobile clinics offering basic medical care to an estimated 200 people a day in the Chitungwiza and Epworth areas.

    Hide said MSF was expecting to find between 700 and 1,000 families in each of the displaced camps. The offer of assistance came in the wake of reports that homeless families were returning to the high-density surbubs from where they had been evicted.

    In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, over 200 displaced people had reportedly returned to informal settlements in the Richmond and Cowdray Park areas. The government-run housing programme to accommodate victims of Operation Murambatsvina was lagging far behind its stated targets because of serious cash flow and material constraints.

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