UN Zimbabwe envoy to visit Bulawayo, other cities

HARARE, 5 July 2005 - The United Nations Special Envoy for human settlements issues in Zimbabwe, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka was scheduled to travel to Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo by road on Tuesday in the next phase of her assessment of the evictions of some 200,000 people in and around urban areas of the country.

Mrs. Tibaijuka, the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, met President Robert Mugabe last week and was given the green light to meet with whom she wished and to travel wherever she deemed necessary on her fact-finding mission to assess the humanitarian impact and needs of the government's Operation Murambatsvina (Restore Order) eviction campaign of people deemed to be living in illegal housing or involved in illegal trading.

She also looking into both the government's arrangements for the displaced, its capacity to address their basic needs, as well as the response of United Nations agencies to humanitarian requirements.

On Tuesday, Mrs. Tibaijuka is expected to travel to the southern city of Bulawayo by road with stops along the way in Midlands Province. She also planned to visit the western Victoria Falls district.

Last week, the Special Envoy met with the Zimbabwean government's Ministerial task force coordinating the Operation Murambatsvina, and was present at the official launch at Whitecliff farm of the new GariKai housing reconstruction programme. She was shown many of the new resettlement sites prepared by the government and local authorities for new homes and markets.

She also met with many of the evictees, and saw at first-hand how they are awaiting resettlement. On a trip to the eastern city of Mutare, she visited the Caledonia Farm which has over 4,000 evictees. She stopped to talk to local authority officials and the affected communities in Headlands and Rusape as well as Mutare, where she met the Mayor, Mr. Mr. M.T. Kagurabadza. She also held talks with the Governor of Manicaland Province, Hon. Tinaye Chigudu, and talked to displaced families camped in the Sakubva sports ground.

Mrs. Tibaijuka heard submissions from representatives of faith-based organizations, non-governmental organizations and ordinary citizens. In the capital Harare, she met with international and local NGOs, women's groups, and others as she visited places were people were evicted, such as Mbare, Hatcliffe Extension and Porta Farm.

Mrs. Tibaijuka has been working closely with UN agencies and international organization based in Zimbabwe including FAO, ILO, IOM, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNICEF, UNIFEM, UNFPA, the World Bank, WFP and WHO.

The aim of her visit is to listen to as many people as possible with a view to understanding the situation without endorsing or discrediting their point of view. Based on these meetings and the research conducted by her team, the Special Envoy will make an impartial assessment for UN Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan.