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aid envoy criticises Zimbabwe for snubbing tents
December 07, 2005
JOHANNESBURG - UN
aid coordinator Jan Egeland on Wednesday criticised Zimbabwe for rejecting
an offer of tents to house some of the hundreds of thousands left homeless
in the recent demolitions campaign.
"We disagree on tents,"
Egeland told a news conference in Johannesburg following a three-day visit
to Zimbabwe during which he held talks with President Robert Mugabe.
"I cannot understand
why tents -- if they are good enough in Europe and the United States for
people who have lost their houses, why couldn't they be good enough for
people in Zimbabwe ?" he said.
Mugabe spurned the
offer during talks on Tuesday although the UN is still set to go ahead
with the construction of 2,500 semi-permanent shelters in the coming months.
George Charamba said Zimbabweans "are not tents people. Tents just don't
auger well with our culture."
Egeland said that
the new homes to be built with international assistance, coupled with
the 5,000 to 7,000 houses that the government is set to build are still
a long way from meeting the needs of the hundreds of thousands who lost
situation in Zimbabwe is extremely serious and it is deteriorating," said
Egeland, the UN under-secretary for humanitarian affairs.
The UN envoy met with
families that lost their homes during the demolitions campaign that was
launched in May in what the government described as an "urban renewal
The campaign dubbed
Operation Murambatsvina, or Drive out Trash, ended in July, leaving some
700,000 people homeless or without livelihoods, according to the United
"My message to the
government was 'help us help you help your people'," said Egeland.
In South Africa, Egeland
met with foreign ministry officials and said that Zimbabwe would be a
"major priority for them in the coming year."
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