President Mugabe bulldozes homes of 200,000 across Zimbabwe

Friday, June 24, 2005

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

Zimbabwean President Mugabe's Operation Murambatsvina ("Drive out rubbish") has seen at least 200,000 people made homeless in Zimbabwe as the government bulldozes "illegal" homes, buildings and markets.

The opposition has said the operation is designed to "punish" those who object to Mugabe's government.

Two children under the age of two have been killed, the first deaths reported so far in the actions which have been taking place for a month now.

International pressure is building on Zimbabwe to stop. British Foreign Minister Jack Straw has been joined by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in condemning the evictions and urging African leaders to speak out.

Family living on the streets of Harare, Zimbabwe.

The government has said the buildings it is destroying are "illegal", and have said that the "black markets" are to blame for the country's "economic meltdown". Over 70% of the population is unemployed.

The bulldozers have the protection of armed police as they do their work. Sometimes the police have forced homeowners to carry out the destruction themselves.

At other times, the government has claimed it is destroying the buildings to get rid of unsafe structures and to reduce overcrowding. Other children have died when the walls of their houses have collapsed.

The authorities are also preventing non-governmental organisations from providing aid to those who have lost their homes.

The country currently needs to import 1.2 million tonnes of food to avoid famine as rural farming production drops.