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UN Rep. meets with President of Zimbabwe on aid

UN Emergency Coordinator meets with President of Zimbabwe on aid

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe met this morning with United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland, who is in the country to assess the humanitarian needs of the population including those evicted in a massive Government slum-clearance effort that left hundreds of thousands homeless.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Mr. Egeland said he had “a long, good and frank exchange” with the Zimbabwean leader. He said he explained to the President that the UN can be more effective if there are better procedures for how to help.

“There is disagreement around the eviction campaign,” Mr. Egeland said, in response to a question. “There is disagreement on how to help those who were evicted. There has been some concern on how to reach food security. But this is not the time to list all the points of disagreement.” Mr. Egeland said that he did not think they disagreed on the need to help the people to help themselves.

In addition, he said there was agreement on redoubling efforts to meet the challenges of millions of people who are infected with HIV and the more than a million children who are AIDS orphans.

The complex humanitarian emergency in Zimbabwe comprises a combination of widespread food insecurity, high unemployment and a 25 per cent HIV/AIDS prevalence rate, in addition to the homelessness caused by Operation Murambatsvina (Restore Order).

During his three-day trip, which ends today, Mr. Egeland also met with the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development, visited displaced persons. Government housing projects, and an orphanage and education centre for AIDS orphans and HIV-positive children.

He met with church leaders, representatives of national and international NGOs and members of the resident donor community as well.

Zimbabwe’s six-month-old Operation Murambatsvina (Restore Order) slum clearance program, described by senior UN officials as an ongoing violation of human rights, has forced an estimated 650,000 to 700,000 people into conditions much worse in many cases than before they were evicted.

On 31 October, Secretary-General Annan appealed to the Government to allow UN humanitarian assistance to the country after the authorities rejected the world body’s aid amid reports that tens of thousands of people there were still homeless and in need of help.

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