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aid chief Egeland to brief Security Council on Zimbabwe
December 07, 2005
United Nations humanitarian
aid coordinator Jan Egeland ended a four-day mission to Zimbabwe on Wednesday
having visited communities devastated by the government’s slum clearance
campaign, consulted with civil society leaders and met with President
Robert Mugabe in a partially successful bid to expand U.N. relief efforts.
A U.N. source told
VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mr. Egeland would brief the U.N. Security
Council on December 19 on the crisis and make recommendations, which might
include imposing international sanctions on the Harare government for
its seeming obstruction of efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to the
Mr. Egeland expressed
some frustration in a meeting with reporters in Johannesburg, South Africa,
his first stop after leaving Harare. Mr. Mugabe endorsed his proposal
for increased food aid, but rejected Mr. Egeland’s of a large number of
tents to shelter hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans left homeless by
the slum "cleanup."
The U.N. has estimated
that 2.4 million people have been affected one way or another by Harare's
blitz on shantytowns and informal marketplaces, and food security experts
estimate that something approaching 4 million people are facing malnutrition.
"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," Reuters quoted Egeland
The Norwegian envoy
said he was mystified by the government's rejection of the offer of tents.
"If they are good enough for people in Europe and the United States who
have lost their houses, why are they not good enough for Zimbabwe?"
Zimbabwe's human rights
community reacted with cautious optimism to Mr. Egeland's visit, hoping
it would boost pressure on Harare to accept expanded international aid
for the estimated 700,000 people people left homeless or destitute or
both by the campaign called Operation Murambatsvina, Shona for "Drive
Arnold Tsunga of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights told reporter Chinedu
Offor of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Harare would keep ignoring calls
for more aid to those displaced and impoverished by its policies unless
it is threatened with sanctions for "acts bordering on crimes against
humanity," as he put it.
Although Mr. Egeland's
visit raised hope in some quarters, civil society organizations said he
failed to resolve questions about aid delivery and the role of local NGOs.
Ngirande of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations
told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe why his group
felt somewhat let down by Mr. Egeland's fact-finding mission.
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