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Operation Murambatsvina - Countrywide evictions of urban poor - Index of articles
Egeland visits Zimbabwe camps for evicted
December 05, 2005
(Reuters) - U.N. humanitarian envoy Jan Egeland visited squalid
camps housing thousands of victims of Zimbabwe's controversial shantytown
demolitions on Monday, declaring the need great and conditions "very
He waded through
the mud to reach hundreds of plastic-sheeting shelters where victims
live in the Hatcliffe informal settlement some 20 km (12.43 miles)
from Harare, which owners said were often water-logged due to heavy
"I have ...
now seen the great shortage for those who have been affected by
the evictions," Egeland, coordinator of humanitarian affairs and
emergency relief, told reporters.
"It is very
clear that the needs are great, the needs are tremendous and the
people are living under very bad conditions."
It was the first
tour by a senior U.N. official since the May demolition of the shantytowns.
He kept journalists at a distance, with aides saying he wanted to
hold private conversations with the victims.
Egeland went to Whitecliff, cite of new houses that some of the
victims may be relocated to. He was due to visit a third camp, Hopley,
"He is walking
around in the mud, speaking to victims, taking in their living conditions,"
a Reuters witness said in Hatcliffe.
Most of Hatcliffe's
8,000 settlers -- men, women and children -- have no formal employment.
Their temporary shelters were erected by the Roman Catholic Church,
one of the dominant religious groups in Zimbabwe.
FOR IMPROVED CONDITIONS
group of women ululated when Egeland arrived, one saying the cheering
was because they believed he might be a catalyst to improving their
living conditions. Egeland was accompanied by U.N. and government
officials. A few soldiers were also in sight.
ordered the bulldozing of urban slums and what it said were illegal
structures in an operation that was widely condemned and left hundreds
of thousands homeless.
last month accepted a U.N. offer to help the homeless after initially
rejecting it on the grounds the demolitions did not constitute a
arrived in Harare on Saturday, met Local Government, Public Works
and Urban Development Minister Ignatius Chombo and senior government
officials on Sunday, and emphasised the critical role of the government
in facilitating the work of humanitarian agencies, the local U.N.
expected to meet President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday, U.N. spokesman
Hiro Ueki said.
Human Rights Watch has accused U.N. agencies of failing to stand
up to Mugabe. It says that instead of decisive action to help the
displaced, the agencies have entered into negotiations based on
what is acceptable to the government.
Zimbabwe's food shortages, which come amid a continuing economic
crisis that has seen inflation top 400 percent, are due to his economic
policies, including the seizure of white-owned farms for landless
blacks. He blames drought and sanctions for Zimbabwe's crisis.
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