Zimbabwe police evict residents of squatter camp

Harare (dpa) - Police in Zimbabwe this week evicted residents from a squatter camp on the outskirts of the capital Harare despite a request from the United Nations for an end to a controversial urban clean-up campaign, a resident at the camp said Tuesday.

The resident of Porta Farm in western Harare said riot police descended on the settlement late Monday, ordering people to leave and setting fire to property that people could not remove in time.

"Policemen are doing their own thing. During the evening they burnt our property saying we have to go to our rural areas," said the resident, a fisherman who has lived at Porta Farm, which lies near Lake Chivero, for the past 12 years.

The latest evictions come days after the publication of a report by U.N. Special Envoy Anna Tibaijuka that strongly criticised the Zimbabwe government's two-month old campaign of shack demolitions and called for its immediate end.

Police first bulldozed down houses at Porta Farm in late June. But many residents are reported to have returned to the farm in recent days. The Roman Catholic Church and USAID have provided tents and food to people at the farm, according to the local Daily Mirror.

A spokesman for the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) said Porta Farm residents were being taken to the countryside.

"They've been checking people's IDs and people are being trucked back to those places" for which they are registered, said CHRA chairman Mike Davies.

On Monday the U.N. resident representative to Zimbabwe, Agostinho Zacarias, said President Robert Mugabe's government had told him that it wanted people moved away from Porta Farm because it is a health hazard.

"The explanation that we have received is that Porta Farm is a destination for sewage," he said. "There is water which is being contaminated and the government has won a court case and it decided to move on the basis of that." dpa rt mga


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