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Annan Appeals to Zimbabwe to Let UN Help Homeless

Annan Appeals to Zimbabwe to Let UN Help Homeless After Government Rejects Aid

New York, Oct 31 2005 7:00PM

Secretary-General Kofi Annan today appealed to the Government in Zimbabwe to allow the United Nations to provide humanitarian assistance to the country after the authorities rejected the world body's aid amid reports that tens of thousands of people there are still homeless and in need of help.

"The Secretary-General remains deeply concerned by the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe," his spokesman <"">said, citing reports of continued suffering months after the eviction campaign that began in May 2005.

Mr. Annan reacted with dismay to a decision by the Government to reject 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" and claimed that Government interventions have addressed the most urgent shelter needs, according to the spokesman.

The Government's position stands in stark contradiction to the findings contained in a report by the Secretary-General's Special Envoy on Human Settlements Issues in Zimbabwe, Anna Tibaijuka, as well as most recent reports from the UN 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," spokesman Stephane Dujarric stressed. He added that there is "no clear evidence" that subsequent Government efforts have significantly benefited these people.

The Government's decision to decline assistance comes despite extensive consultations on relief efforts between the UN and the authorities.

With the impending rainy season threatening to worsen the living conditions of the affected population, the Secretary-General made 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," his spokesman said.


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