Zimbabwe

UN Envoy briefs Zimbabwean officials on using negotiations in upgrading slums

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United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Envoy, evaluating the humanitarian aspects of the Government of Zimbabwe's recent evictions of some 200,000 poor people from illegal housing, has continued her tour and has briefed officials on negotiating with slum dwellers, the UN spokesman said today.

Today UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) Executive Director Anna Tibaijuka visited 4,000 evictees in Caledonian camp who are waiting for relocation, several sites between Harare and Mutare where housing has been demolished, as well as some relocation projects suggested by the Government, Stéphane Dujarric told the daily news briefing.

Late yesterday she met with the Government policy committee which has been coordinating the evictions and listened to the presentation made by the ministers. She then briefed them on UN-HABITAT's approach to upgrading slums, which is based on negotiations with the affected residents, he said.

Earlier, she met representatives of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society, including a women's coalition which brought evicted women to speak directly to her. She also visited Porta Farm, the site of the latest government eviction operation, he said.

She wished to investigate the reports of deaths during the demolitions, Mr. Dujarric said.

Asked about news reports that she had praised the relocation programme, the spokesman said that she had been quoted out of context in Government-run newspapers.

Her listening to the statements by Government ministers should in no way be seen as an endorsement of their policy, he said.

With UN-HABITAT being responsible for urbanization issues, its position is that forced evictions pose one of the main barriers to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aimed at improving the lives of millions of slum dwellers significantly by the year 2020, Mr. Dujarric said.