1 November 2005

Secretary-General Remains Deeply Concerned about Humanitarian Situation in Zimbabwe

NEW YORK, 31 October (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General remains deeply concerned by the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe.  The United Nations continues to receive reports that tens of thousands of people are still homeless and in need of assistance, months after the eviction campaign began in May 2005.

He is particularly dismayed to learn that the Government of Zimbabwe's Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Cabinet Committee has rejected offers of UN assistance.  In an official communication, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development stated that there is no longer a compelling need to provide temporary shelter as there is no humanitarian crisis.  The Minister, in the same communication, also claims that Government interventions have addressed the most urgent shelter needs.

The above statements directly contradict the report by the Secretary-General's Special Envoy on Human Settlements Issues in Zimbabwe, Anna Tibaijuka, as well as the most recent reports from the United Nations and the humanitarian community.  A large number of vulnerable groups, including the recent evictees as well as other vulnerable populations, remain in need of immediate humanitarian assistance, including shelter.  Furthermore, there is no clear evidence that subsequent Government efforts have significantly benefited these groups.

The Secretary-General notes the Government's decision to decline assistance comes despite extensive consultations on relief efforts that ensued in the past months between the United Nations and the Government.  Meanwhile, the impending rainy season threatens to worsen the living conditions of the affected population.

The Secretary-General is disturbed by the continued suffering and makes a strong appeal to the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure that those who are out in the open, without shelter and without means of sustaining their livelihoods, are provided with humanitarian assistance in collaboration with the United Nations and the humanitarian community in order to avert a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation.

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