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Operation Murambatsvina - Countrywide evictions of urban poor - Index of articles
envoy says Zimbabwe's crisis is deepening
December 07, 2005
HARARE, Dec - U.N.
humanitarian envoy Jan Egeland left Zimbabwe on Wednesday after a four-day
tour and said its humanitarian crisis was deepening, with millions in
need of aid.
situation in Zimbabwe is very serious. The need for international aid
is big and growing," Egeland, the U.N. humanitarian affairs and emergency
relief coordinator, told journalists late on Tuesday after talks with
President Robert Mugabe and government officials.
"Millions of people
are struggling with their back against the wall to fend off hunger, to
fend off AIDS and a lot of other things," he said after visiting people
living in shacks since they were evicted during government demolitions
On Tuesday Mugabe
rejected a U.N. offer to provide temporary shelter for victims of the
slum clearance programme but did accept an offer of food aid.
The U.N. says Zimbabwe
needs emergency aid including tents to accommodate the hundreds of thousands
of homeless but the government says it only needs help to provide permanent
Egeland said there
was progress on aid, especially for people suffering with HIV/AIDS.
"The people of Zimbabwe
are suffering under several big problems. I am hopeful that we will have
a more positive partnership in 2006 than we have had in the past," said
Egeland said the government
crackdown could have been avoided and urged authorities to halt further
evictions after reports in the past month that families already living
in the open were being forced to move again by authorities.
"I am again appealing
for the eviction campaign to stop, there is not enough shelter ready to
house those who have been evicted," said Egeland.
The evictions, which
Mugabe argues were meant to root out illegal trade in scant basic commodities,
left 700,000 people homeless or without a livelihood and affected 2.4
million others, U.N. estimates show.
A U.N. report criticised
Harare and said the demolitions were carried out "with indifference to
Egeland, who visited
settlements where families have lived in makeshift plastic tents since
their houses were destroyed in Harare and Bulawayo, said he and U.N. Secretary
General Kofi Annan stood by that report.
The demolitions added
to the woes of many Zimbabweans facing shortages of food, fuel and foreign
currency, high unemployment and one of the highest rates of inflation
in the world.
Mugabe denies responsibility
for the crisis and says domestic and international opponents have sabotaged
the economy in retaliation for his programme of seizing white-owned commercial
farms for redistribution to blacks.
Mugabe also accuses
the United States and Zimbabwe's former colonial power Britain of trying
to use the United Nations to settle political disputes.
Egeland said the U.N.
would be feeding in excess of three million people by next February in
Zimbabwe, where the country's agriculture output has fallen by more than
half in the last five years. we
would be a "major priority for them in the coming year."
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