|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: |
JULY 26, 2005
NEW YORK / GENEVA - July 26 - In the wake of a report by the United Nations Special Envoy regarding home demolitions and evictions in Zimbabwe, UNICEF today repeated calls for an immediate end to the operation and for full humanitarian access to more than 585,000 people who have been made homeless.
UNICEF said it was horrified at reports of children dying of easily treatable respiratory infections and of women being forced to give birth in the open.
Two months ago the Zimbabwe Government embarked on a nationwide “clean up” of its cities. The result has been the mass destruction of tens of thousands of homes, loss of livelihoods, and a particularly devastating impact on children.
“There is understandable outrage about what is happening to children in Zimbabwe,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “More than 220,000 children are homeless, without access to food, water or health care. Tens of thousands of children are no longer in schools.”
The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, who spent two weeks assessing the situation in Zimbabwe, released a report Friday that said Zimbabweans “are today deeper in poverty, deprivation and destitution,” adding that many sick women and children, and hundreds of people living with HIV, no longer have access to health care services.
What UNICEF is doing in response to the emergency:
UNICEF expressed concern that it remains virtually impossible to reach all those affected, noting that large numbers of children are now missing an education.
The agency said the crisis deepens a humanitarian nightmare that includes the world’s fourth-highest rate of HIV infection, fuel shortages, a growing food emergency, declining economic performance, and the sharpest rises in child mortality in the world.
UNICEF’s emergency operations in Zimbabwe continue to be expanded, and the organization is helping organize additional mobile medical clinics and planning the further distribution of blankets and shelter materials for children and their families.