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Bulawayo Churches Resist Pressure to Turn Out Displaced

Bulawayo churches have staved off attempts by police to move homeless people in the care of the city’s congregations to a new holding facility at Helensvale farm in Bubi-Umguza – at least until adequate facilities are established there.

A source close to the situation said police earlier ordered churches to evacuate those they were sheltering, but church leaders refused to carry out the order. The churches eventually agreed with ministerial and provincial officials that they could continue hosting the homeless until suitable new accommodations were set up.

About 3,000 people have found shelter in eight church buildings, church sources in Bulawayo said. Most of these displaced people originally came from the Ngozi and Killarney squatter camps, from which police had driven them out.

The Zimbabwe Red Cross and UNICEF have agreed to provide tents in which the internally displaced can be sheltered, a Bulawayo churchman said.

Pastor Lucky Moyo of Bulawayo, a member of the relief committee set up by an alliance of churches in the city, told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Bulawayo Governor Cain Mathema and the Department of Social Services were parties to Thursday’s agreement on assistance.