Zimbabwean aid worker detained over transit camp photos: lawyer

Harare (dpa) - Police detained an aid worker on Tuesday for taking photographs at a camp outside the capital of Harare, where an estimated 5,000 people fled after their homes were destroyed by a government demolition campaign, her lawyer said.

Eunice Mafundikwa, who was working for Action Aid, was detained for seven hours at a central Harare police station after she was arrested for taking photographs of another aid group distributing goods at the camp, said lawyer Tafadzwa Mugabe.

Mafundikwa was arrested around noon on Tuesday ''for taking photographs of a ceremony by a women's organisation giving out sanitary ware to women,'' said the lawyer Mugabe. ''It didn't go down well with the authorities.''

He said his client was released more than seven hours after her arrest and was instructed to report to the police station on Wednesday to face formal charges, Mugabe said.

Conditions at Caledonia Transit Centre are reported to be bleak. Many people are reported to be sleeping out in the open, there is little running water and toilets are scarce. The evictions came in the midst of the southern African winter.

A delegation of South African church leaders who were in Zimbabwe on a two-day fact-finding mission said earlier Tuesday that conditions at the camp are ''inhuman''.

''Because of the stress, trauma and lack of proper nutrition, mothers are unable to breastfeed their babies,'' the report said.

Human rights groups estimate as many as 300,000 people have been left homeless as a result of the police blitz, dubbed Operation Restore Order. The government says the operation was necessary to curb crime and ease pressure on overburdened municipalities. Opposition critics say that the goverment of President Robert Mugabe is trying to push out administration opponents from the large cities. dpa rt pr


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