Zimbabwe

No new Zimbabwean demolitions reported-UN

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By Irwin Arieff

UNITED NATIONS, July 29 (Reuters) - The United Nations is seeking to verify Zimbabwe's announcement it has stopped bulldozing shantytowns but has heard of no new demolitions since Tuesday, U.N. officials said on Friday.

"We are obviously concerned by reports that these demolitions are ongoing," said chief spokesman Stephane Dujarric. "Our team on the ground continues to verify."

In Harare, U.N. resident coordinator Agostinho Zacarias has had no word of any demolitions since Tuesday, according to a statement issued at U.N. headquarters in New York.

Zimbabwe declared an end on Thursday to its controversial campaign to "clean up" urban areas by bulldozing thousands of illegal structures.

Earlier such announcements proved premature when police continued the campaign despite a rising international outcry.

The latest government statement fell a day after Anna Tibaijuka, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special envoy, briefed the Security Council on her inquiry into Zimbabwe's "Operation Restore Order."

Her strongly worded report, issued last Friday, said the campaign had destroyed the homes or jobs of at least 700,000 people and affected the lives of 2.4 million.

The crackdown was being carried out "in an indiscriminate and unjustified manner, with indifference to human suffering," it said.

Zimbabwe, estranged from Western countries mainly over its controversial land reform program and accusations it has rigged elections since 2000, called the report biased and unfair.

Tibaijuka, who also heads U.N. Habitat, the world body's Nairobi-based urban settlements arm, was able to brief the council only after Britain insisted she be allowed to speak.

Britain's demand forced a rare procedural vote, which it won 9-5 with Brazil abstaining.

China, Russia and African nations Algeria, Benin and Tibaijuka's home country of Tanzania were opposed to hearing the report, calling it an interference in Zimbabwe's internal affairs. The United States, France, Denmark, Romania, Greece, Japan, Argentina and the Philippines joined Britain in asking Tibaijuka to speak.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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