Tuesday, October 25, 2005

'Dust People' Starve in Zimbabwe Ruins

SOME call them the "dust people", others the "people with no address".
President Robert Mugabe's government has a more graphic term: "Sniff
out the rats who have sneaked back in" is the name of the latest
campaign by police and soldiers against the city dwellers whose homes
they demolished earlier this year but who have refused to flee.

Thousands of Zimbabweans are now living like animals in the midst of
rubble, crawling in and out of hovels less than 3ft high, fashioned
from cardboard boxes and broken asbestos.

With no means of earning a living — and with aid agencies banned by
the government from helping them — they are forced to forage in
rubbish for rotten vegetables or prostitute themselves for the
equivalent of 10p to feed their children. A doctor who managed to get
in said tuberculosis was rife.

These are the victims of Operation Murambatsvina (drive out the
filth), Mugabe's so-called urban beautification campaign which,
according to a damning report by the United Nations, left more than
700,000 homeless or without an income.

Yet last week the United Nations flew Zimbabwe's president on an
all-expenses-paid trip to Rome to celebrate World Food Day in defiance
of European Union travel sanctions. Flanked by bodyguards, he
proclaimed that there was no hunger in his country and blamed its
problems on George W Bush and Tony Blair, branding them international
terrorists and likening them to Hitler and Mussolini.


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