Cablegate: Humanitarian Situation Intensifies Dramatically With

DE RUEHSB #0395/01 1260737
R 050737Z MAY 08






E.O. 12958: N/A



1. In October 2007, then- Charge d'Affaires Kathy Dhanani renewed
the complex emergency disaster declaration for Zimbabwe based on the
continuing effects of poor governance on the most vulnerable
segments of the population (Ref). Post draws attention to the
rapidly declining and new, violent nature of the humanitarian crisis
following the March 29 harmonized elections. Although current needs
of internally displaced persons (IDPs) are being met with in-country
resources, Post alerts USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance
(OFDA) and AFR to a potential need for USG emergency assistance for
IDPs, including food, non-food, medical, and protection support, if
violence intensifies or is prolonged. Although Post realizes that a
second declaration is not required, Ambassador McGee will be issuing
a statement reinforcing the existence of a humanitarian disaster
septel. Post will continue to work with OFDA's Regional Advisor to
monitor the situation and to identify the most appropriate forms of
assistance as needs grow.

2. Following the harmonized elections, the Government has embarked
on a systematic, country-wide campaign of intimidation and violence
in a concerted effort to punish opposition party supporters for not
voting "correctly" and to influence in their favor the outcome of
the expected Presidential run-off. War veterans, military personnel,
and youth militia have established centers (geographically widening
their coverage) to beat, torture, and "reeducate" Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party members and supporters, polling
agents, and human rights defenders. An unconfirmed number of homes
and granaries have been burned and cattle slaughtered by the
government's "hit squads." A growing number of persons are displaced
due to property destruction and fear of reprisal. Post is concerned
that the situation will deteriorate and possibly plummet after a
run-off if Mugabe is not the clear winner.

3. The international community is monitoring the situation closely
and OCHA is beginning to take a more active role to assess and track
the number, location, and needs of IDPs. Human rights organizations
are documenting locations and cases of violence. The most urgent
needs for those displaced include tents, blankets, food, soap, and
sanitary items. Local NGOs and churches are hesitant to provide
assistance based on threats received and for fear of reprisal.
However, through existing resources, IOM is providing for the
majority of the needs of IDPs, with additional support provided by
the USG-funded NGO Zimbabwe Community Development Trust (ZCDT),
Christian Alliance, and some church affiliated groups. Title II
emergency food aid from in-country stocks are also being utilized to
respond to food needs. Since much of the violence is directed
towards small-scale farmers and their laborers the impact on both
the upcoming harvest and planting of the winter wheat crop is of
particular concern. Food insecurity, in this dismal crop year, will
be affected further by the burning of granaries and slaughter of
livestock. A worrisome pattern of areas being declared by war
veterans, military officers, and even district administrators as "no
go" areas and threats against international NGOs is emerging and
this may hamper future efforts unless the international community is
able to successfully push back on the government for access to IDPs.
OCHA has requested permission for field observation teams but has
been denied by the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare. However,
the UN has been told to resume field activities. Donors have
requested a Senior Humanitarian Affairs Officer with a background in
protection. OECD Heads of Mission are preparing a joint statement
denouncing the violence. End summary.


4. The nature of the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe rapidly
deteriorated following the March 29 harmonized elections when the
Government initiated a campaign of intimidation and violence,
unleashing "hit squads" comprised of war veterans, military
officers, and youth militia throughout the country to punish MDC
supporters for not voting for the ruling party and to influence a
potential run-off vote. Torture centers, from which the "hit squads"
operate, have proliferated in rural areas, and training camps for
youth militia are reported to exist. Abductions appear to be
occurring at night and in the daytime alike. Reports abound about
victims being beaten and then released far from home and medical

HARARE 00000395 002 OF 004

care. The most commonly reported injury is deep tissue wounds;
however, the nature of violence is requiring a higher degree of
specialized surgery. Horrific accounts of maiming, psychological
intimidation, and rape have also been reported. IOM reports and
recent trends confirm that incidents of violence and the geographic
extent of human rights abuses are increasing. To date, the
USAID-supported Counseling Services Unit (CSU) has provided
approximately 500 individuals with medical, psycho-social, and
protection assistance, with most individuals having been treated in
Harare after arriving from other parts of the country. On a typical
day, CSU processes approximately 50 victims per day, providing them
with medical and psycho-social assistance and helping them to find
safe havens with family or friends after being treated.

5. As violence increases so too is the number of displaced persons
who are forced homeless by arson or who fear for their safety after
being threatened or tortured. At present, displaced persons are
concentrated in Harare, Mutare, Chipinge, Nyanga, Gokwe, Karoi, and
Bulawayo, where they are seeking refuge at MDC offices. Reports of
displacements have also surfaced in Murewa, Mutoko, Mutasa, Makoni,
Hwedza, Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe, and Mvuma Drefontein, but the
numbers and locations of these individuals are hard to track at this
point. Furthermore, an unknown number of MDC leaders are in hiding.
To date, IOM reports that the number of people crossing border posts
is within normal levels. Although large-scale displacement has not
occurred, Post is concerned that this is highly likely as violence
intensifies. (Comment: There is also concern that the Government is
attempting to displace larger numbers of people to inhibit the
ability of opposition supporters to vote in a run-off. For this
reason, it is important to keep IDPs in their home constituencies.
End comment.)

6. From April 19-20, two members of the USAID/Zimbabwe Democracy
and Governance Office and OFDA's Harare-based humanitarian
specialist conducted an on the ground assessment of violence in
Mutare, Chipinge, and Nyanga. The general findings of their
assessment are noted below (see para 9 for emergency needs and
response to date). Post plans to conduct subsequent monitoring
trips on a routine basis to confirm reports of violence and
emergency needs. Post has encouraged other donors, particularly
OCHA, to conduct similar trips.

--Harare: Until Friday, April 25, approximately 200 people were
seeking refuge at the MDC headquarters (Harvest House) in Harare.
Many of those present had traveled to Harare from rural areas after
having been victimized to seek safety and medical assistance and to
report other victims in need of care and protection. However,
mid-day on April 25, armed police raided Harvest House and forcibly
removed all IDPs, taking them to Harare Central Policy Station.
Women and children were released by police over the weekend and are
being provided assistance by the Women's Trust; however, most men
were dispersed throughout the city to various jails and subsequently
released on Tuesday April 29. USAID food was to be provided to the
IDPs at Harvest House, but the food was not delivered before the
IDPs were taken to the police station. Now that they are accounted
for, the women and children are being provided USG food aid through
the Catholic Development Commission.

--Mutare: As of Friday, April 25, 105 families were seeking refuge
at the MDC office after having witnessed the destruction of their
homes at Evans Farm and having been forced at gun point off of their
property. Most of the displaced arrived on April 16. At the time of
the USAID assessment, the families were sleeping in the open
surrounded by the furniture and other belongings that they were able
to carry with them. Limited water and toilet facilities were
available. Beginning on April 25, IOM began moving 57 households to
other locations. Eleven households are returning to their rural
areas and another 46 are being relocated to Tsvingwe Transit Camp in
Manicaland. Most of the families at Tsvingwe (36) will be sheltered
in private one-room buildings; the other 10 families will stay
together at a warehouse.

--Chipinge and Nyanga: Approximately 35 individuals are seeking
refuge at MDC offices in both Chipinge and Nyanga. Reports were made
to the assessment team that people are not sleeping in their homes
for fear of abduction. In Chipinge, war veterans are preventing food
supplies from being delivered to local shops. Maize meal is
available from the Grain Marketing Board, but only to those with a
letter from war veterans demonstrating affiliation to ZANU-PF.


HARARE 00000395 003 OF 004


7. Since much of the violence is directed towards small-scale
farmers and farm laborers, the impact on both the upcoming harvest
and planting of the winter wheat crop is of particular concern. Food
insecurity will be affected further by the burning of grain stocks
and the slaughter of cattle. Food needs this hunger season also will
be exacerbated by below average crop yields resulting from flooding
that took place in December/January. In-country stocks of cereals,
pulses, and vegetable oil are adequate to meet the current need.

8. Normal food distributions for this point in the year have ended.
Given the violence, it is uncertain to what extent school feeding
and safety net/vulnerable group feeding programs will be able to
resume. The first test of this will be in mid-May when schools
reopen. USAID is working with WFP and its C-SAFE NGO partners to
re-establish contact with counselors at the local level to test the
feasibility of operating in schools. USAID is hopeful that the
non-sensitive nature of schools will provide an opening from which
to support IDPs. The Mission has established a working group
comprised of its food aid partners (WFP and C-SAFE) and human rights
groups to ensure that the food needs of the displaced are met.
Although large-scale distribution of household rations will
apparently be needed earlier in the year due to the poor harvest,
because of the inability to hold community meetings (essential for
registration) there will no doubt be a delay in start-up.


9. The most urgent needs for those displaced include tents,
blankets, food, soap, and sanitary items. Using existing resources,
IOM, ZCDT, Christian Alliance, and some church affiliated groups
have been able to meet food and non-food needs of the displaced. The
existing stock of non-food relief supplies of IOM, UNICEF, WHO,
OXFAM, and NGO partners is sufficient to meet ongoing non-food needs
of IDPs for a limited (though not protracted) period of continued
violence. Items in stock include plastic sheeting, tents, water
containers and tanks, chlorine, solid waste kits, and soap.
Similarly, on the food side, WFP and C-SAFE have adequate stocks
in-country and in the pipeline; however, these levels are intended
for school feeding and safety net/vulnerable group feeding.
Therefore, if the number of IDPs increases dramatically, the
pipeline will need to be revisited. Delivery of assistance is
dependent on operational space. The designation of "no go" areas by
war veterans, military officers, and even district administrators
(under pressure of those perpetrating the violence) may hamper
efforts to provide assistance. International NGOs have also received
worrisome threats in the field. OCHA has now encouraged each of the
UN agencies to resume operations in rural areas unless prohibited to
do so because of security threats. Those NGOs with curtailed
operations are likely to follow suit. OCHA is working with the
Government on the access issue. This will be important to overcome
not only for ongoing programs but also for assistance to IDPS, as
many local organizations (including churches) have been hesitant to
provide support to victims of torture for fear of retribution.

10. The network of hospitals and clinics throughout the country are
either non-functional or unaffordable, resulting in victims having
to travel great distances (oftentimes on foot) to access medical
care. Absence of essential drugs and other health care commodities
is also affecting the ability of victims to obtain medical
treatment. Though DFID and the EU have provided UNICEF with funding
to procure enough essential drugs for four months, distribution of
the drugs is problematic since NATPHARM is government operated.
Another constraint to medical care for victims of torture is the
fact that CSU is the only donor-funded organization that provides
medical and psycho-social treatment free of charge. Furthermore,
because CSUs services are entirely funded by the USG, they are in
jeopardy of being interrupted by overstretched financial resources.
The Mission is in the process of requesting an early release of FY
08 resources for CSU. The length, scale, and severity of violence
will affect how quickly these resources are exhausted.


11. Based on the existing complex emergency disaster declaration
issued in October 2008, the USG has utilized existing programs to
respond to the violent turn of events. OFDA is building on a

HARARE 00000395 004 OF 004

previous grant to put into place a follow-on award of $750,000 to
IOM; funding under this mechanism will be used to respond to IDP
needs. In addition, through a small grant provided by the Mission's
democracy and governance program, ZCDT is providing food and
non-food assistance to IDPs. Furthermore, the USG is providing soap
to IDPs via Oxfam's existing grant with OFDA to alleviate the
effects of water and sanitation service delivery breakdowns for
urban vulnerable populations. Title II emergency food aid is being
provided from in-country stocks to assist IDPs. OFDA also is
supporting humanitarian coordination through $100,000 in FY 08
direct funding to OCHA.

12. Post may request OFDA consideration for additional non-food
relief assistance for IDPs, protection- related programs, and
medical aid for victims of torture if violence intensifies or is
prolonged. Post will continue to monitor and report on the
humanitarian crisis, and consult with OFDA about appropriate USG
assistance in response to continuing and, likely, expanding needs.


13. Per reftel, there are concerns regarding OCHA's ability to
effectively coordinate information collection and dissemination and
a multi-donor response. However, they appear to be stepping up to
the plate to lead the effort. OCHA is beginning to track numbers,
locations, and needs of IDPs, is holding meetings with more
frequency, and is considering the deployment of a Senior
Humanitarian Advisor. Additionally, the UN has fielded two
representatives from the UN Office of the High Commission for Human
Rights. OCHA also is coordinating the possible deployment of two
sets of multi-agency field visits to investigate the violence and
ascertain any associated needs. Three of the teams were to visit
Mudzi, Mutare, and Harare environs from April 26-27, but were put on
hold following the Ministry of Social Welfare's dismissal of the
need for the donor missions. Due to the government's response, it is
unclear at this point if the assessments will take place. From May
1-2, three additional assessment teams are tentatively scheduled to
go to Bulawayo, Masvingo, and Hurungwe.

14. As more information becomes available, an update to this sitrep
will be provided.


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