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Amnesty Urges Zimbabwe to Save Murambatsvina Victims

Amnesty International says Zimbabwe’s unity government should cater for the needs of thousands of victims of the 2005 Operation Murambatsvina who are currently living in squalid conditions.

Officially marking World Habitat Day in the country’s second largest city, Bulawayo, a top Amnesty official said most of the victims of the massive operation are living in makeshift homes such as Ngozi Mine compound in the city’s Richmond suburb and Killarney squatter camp.

Amnesty International Zimbabwe researcher Simeon Mawanza said affordable and adequate housing should be a priority for everyone and therefore the government should respond to the needs of the victims of the 2005 clean up exercise.

“In terms of protection of human rights governments are not expected to make excuses. They have to be seen to be demonstrating that they are using the resources that they have to ensure that everybody’s standard of living improves, including protection of economic, social and cultural rights,” said Mawanza.

Precious Shumba of the Harare Residents Trust told VOA Studio 7 the government is unwilling to commit itself to the provision of houses for local people resulting in serious shortages of appropriate shelter.

Shumba said: “Unfortunately the (Harare) city council and the government have not invested in developing land or housing development instead they have left this responsibility to cooperatives which are also being hindered by rampant corruption.”

At least 700,000 Murambatsvina victims lost their homes and informal businesses nationwide as some of them dumped in places like Hopely Farm outside Harare.

Some have been lucky to get houses under Operation Garikai of Hlalani Kahle which was crafted to resettle displaced victims. The majority are still homeless after failing to access so-called state-funded housing schemes in towns and cities.

The United Nations has designated the first Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day. The idea is to reflect on the state of towns and cities and the basic right of all - adequate shelter. It is also intended to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat.

This year the United Nations chose the theme ‘Changing Cities, Building Opportunities’ noting that towns and cities are the engines of growth.

Under this theme, UN-Habitat wants to underscore the need to properly plan urban settlements in order to avoid chaotic development.