UN envoy on housing evictions appoints UN-HABITAT manager for Zimbabwe

As head of the United Nations urban development agency, the UN Special Envoy investigating the humanitarian aspects of housing and market evictions in Zimbabwe today said she would appoint a programme manager to help the Government of the Southern African country with its urbanization programme.

"As UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, the UN agency responsible for housing and urban development, I recognize the need to immediately support the UN country team by appointing a UN-HABITAT programme manager, with immediate effect," Anna Tibaijuka said as she wound up a nearly two-week-long fact-finding tour of Zimbabwe.

The programme managers of UN-HABITAT, officially known as the UN Human Settlements Programme, are urban planning and management experts who work with Governments at all levels on "providing adequate shelter for all and developing sustainable settlements in a globalizing world," Ms. Tibaijuka said.

"The reason that UN-HABITAT had not stationed a programme manager in Zimbabwe in the past is that statistics had suggested that urbanization was not yet a critical issue in the country," she added.

Ms. Tibaijuka, who arrived on 26 June to assess the humanitarian aspects of the evictions, also examined the adequacy of the Government's arrangements for those displaced during the southern African winter, the official capacity to provide for basic needs and the ability of the UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to respond to humanitarian requirements.

After criss-crossing the country, she is scheduled to leave Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, tomorrow for Nairobi, Kenya, where UN-HABITAT is headquartered, and said she would report on her visit to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

He would then decide how the international community could "further assist the Government and people of Zimbabwe with the challenges I have seen on the ground," she said.