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Zimbabwe Churches Lead Aid Effort

Churches are now in the forefront in helping families displaced by the ongoing mass evictions as humanitarian organizations struggle to get an official go-ahead from government to make donations.

An official with one of the international organizations says churches have been providing help by feeding people and giving them blankets.

He says his organization has only been able to assess the situation in anticipation of receiving government permission to assist directly. This aid official adds that despite help from the churches there is still much more assistance needed in terms of food, shelter and medication.

He said his organization, which deals with displaced people, is negotiating with Harare to be allowed to provide assistance. So he spoke on condition that neither he nor his organization be named.

Despite such official delays, this aid official said he is still hopeful that his organization will eventually obtain permission to work with the displaced – despite media reports quoting Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche as saying that help from such nongovernmental organizations is not needed.

Efforts by Studio 7 to obtain a comment from Mr. Goche were unsuccessful.

Hundreds of displaced Mutare residents poured into the offices of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace early today seeking aid. The Commission sent homeless and hungry families to the city’s cathedral, where church workers distributed food and blankets. But the handouts were insufficient to meet the needs of residents affected by Operation Murambatsvina.

Studio 7 reporter Sydney Sithole filed a report from the Mutare cathedral.