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UN Humanitarian Chief Egeland Obtains Mixed Results in Zimbabwe


A fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe by the United Nations’ top humanitarian aid official has yielded mixed results with President Robert Mugabe agreeing to accept food aid – but maintaining his opposition to a UN plan to provide emergency shelter for the victims of the slum demolition campaign the government launched in May.

UN humanitarian aid chief Jan Egeland met with Mr. Mugabe Tuesday in Harare and later told reporters that differences remained as to implementation of the housing plan though the two agreed on funding for food and to fight the AIDS pandemic.

There was “agreement…to redouble our efforts” to help the one in five Zimbabwean adults infected with the HIV virus and the thousands short of food, Mr. Egeland said.

Reuters reported that a government spokesman said the issue for President Mugabe was that the UN in his view should help provide permanent, not temporary, homes.

Mr. Egeland later traveled to Bulawayo and told journalists that Zimbabwe’s needs are “very deep,” as correspondent Netsai Mlilo reported to VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe.

Though the Norwegian envoy did not obtain all that he might have hoped from Harare, some observers detected progress in efforts by the UN to moderate the government’s behavior and relieve the victims of Operation Murambatsvina (“Drive Out Trash”), which the UN said left at least 700,000 homeless or without livelihoods.

Reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked University of London Professor Steven Chan about the implications of the Egeland visit.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...

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