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Call For Resumption Of Services In Zimbabwe

UNICEF Calls For Full Resumption Of Services For Children In Zimbabwe


13 June 2008 Nairobi – UNICEF expressed its deep concern at the Zimbabwe Government’s suspension on NGO workers from reaching the country’s most vulnerable children. The UN Children’s Fund called for a full and immediate resumption of programmes which are critical for the country’s children.

Last week all NGOs were instructed to stop their field work in Zimbabwe until further notice. The net effect is as many as 500,000 children are now not receiving the health care, HIV/AIDS support, education assistance and food that they require. Many of these children are orphans.

“Zimbabwe’s children cannot endure a winter without support,” said UNICEF’s Regional Director for Eastern & Southern Africa, Mr Per Engebak. “The level of suffering for these children increases daily.”

Zimbabwe’s current wave of politically-motivated violence has resulted in the destruction of thousands of homes, thousands of children not returning to school after the 29 April restart of classes, and scores of children being beaten, some as young as two years old. Children have been turned away from schools, and some schools have been used as centres of torture. In one interview with UNICEF staff, a 10-year-old boy recounted: “They started beating me, others were kicking me in the ribs. One of them continuously beat me with a big stick on my head. After beating me they held me down and used plastic to burn my chest.”

Said UNICEF’s Regional Director for Eastern & Southern Africa, Mr Engebak: “This appalling violence damages children, their potential, and Zimbabwe as a whole. It must stop and it must stop now. All authorities have a legal obligation to protect children; and as a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child there is an international obligation.”

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has programmes for children in Zimbabwe in HIV/AIDS, health and nutrition, child protection, education, water & sanitation, and child rights. As of last week one UNICEF orphan programme – reaching 185,000 orphans through 25 NGOs – no longer operates.

“The frustration is that we know the needs of Zimbabwe’s children and the grandmothers and extended families who do all they can to provide for them – and we have excellent programmes to assist them. But today these programmes serve no one because of the current suspension of NGOs.”


ENDS


Notes on UNICEF in Zimbabwe
In 2007 the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) responded to Zimbabwe’s crisis by reaching more than 2.5million Zimbabwean children and women with programmes in HIV, health and nutrition, child protection, education, water & sanitation, and child rights.

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