STILL NOWHERE TO GO FOR ZIMBABWEANS
Many still homeless in Zimbabwe.
Some displaced people say they have nowhere to go. Many thousands of Zimbabweans whose houses were destroyed earlier this year remain in rural areas without proper homes, say a group of church leaders.
Speaking in Johannesburg about Zimbabwe's Operation Murambatsvina, priests from various churches said evictions were still continuing. The government crackdown targets informal traders and buildings the authorities deem illegal. The Archbishop of Bulawayo warned that some 200,000 were threatened by hunger. A United Nations envoy said 700,000 people were affected by Operation Murambatsvina.
Archbishop Pius Ncube said that according to his estimate, about 200,000 people would die by early next year because they no longer had money to buy food, and because the population was affected by HIV-Aids. "Hunger is due to the Zimbabwe government refusing food aid," Archbishop Ncube added. "Even if there are good rains this year, the government is so bankrupt that it has very little to spend on seed, and there is no fertiliser." "Eighty percent of those displaced people who were sent to rural areas have not yet acquired any permanent settlement," said Pastor Albert Chatido, the logistical co-ordinator of church aid efforts in Bulawayo. "They are dwelling with relatives or in the headman's homestead. NGOs are only allowed to supply food to a certain area."
Pastor Ray Motsi, chairman of the Combined Churches of Bulawayo, said that "out of the 700,000 the UN was talking about, between 300,000 and 400,000 have been displaced to rural areas". "The tragedy is that many had no rural background and made their way back."
However, Shari Eppel, human rights advisor to Archbishop Ncube said that while the UN figures on displacement were credible, there were no reliable figures on how many had ended up in the rural areas. "Where people are now we just don't know," she told the BBC News website. Church leaders say it is not possible to get an accurate number of the number of people forcibly displaced to the rural areas, since they are widely dispersed. A survey published in a report by the Solidarity Peace Trust - a South African-based group working in Zimbabwe - suggests that of the people whose homes were destroyed in Bulawayo's Killarney squatter camp, 70% said they had nowhere else to go.
Pastor Chatido said between 500 and 1,000 people were still living in the open in various parts of Bulawayo. He said that a group of people of Malawian descent, interviewed by the BBC News website in August, were still living in the bush in the Bulawayo suburb of Cowdray Park. "One of them died recently," Pastor Chatido said. He added that demolitions were continuing in Killarney, after people rebuilt the shelters that had earlier been demolished.
People have become dependent on aid from churches."Killarney Village 2 was recently squashed for the third time," he said. In Killarney Village 3, Pastor Chatido said informal settlement dwellers had come up with a novel way of beating the demolitions: "They take down their corrugated sheets in the morning, and then reconstruct their shelters in the evening." In Victoria Falls, Pastor Chatido said people were living 15 in a small house, after the destruction of outbuildings forced people to share the available accommodation.
BBC NEWS REPORT