Church Aid Convoys Head for the Desperate Evicted in Zimbabwe

Two trucks loaded each with 32 tons of food, blankets and other basic items is soon to depart for Zimbabwe to help the thousands made homeless by the Government’s slum demolition programme, a spokesman for the South African Council of Churches (SACC) has said.

The delivery of the convoys, from Johannesburg in South Africa to Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, have faced numerous setbacks after the Zimbabwean Government insisted that all food be certified by both the suppliers and South Africa’s Ministry of Agriculture as being GM-free.

Rev Ron Steele said on behalf of the SACC: “We have finally got the necessary documents saying that the maize in the truck has not been genetically modified – so we hope to get the necessary clearance certificate from the Zimbabwean authorities.”

The deliveries will be received in Zimbabwe by Christian Care, an NGO, which is also responsible for the food distribution for the Zimbabwe Council of Churches. Rev Steele said the food aid was destined for the transit camps outside Harare.

The UN Special Envoy Anna Tibaijuka said after a two week visit that around 700,000 people had been affected by the demolitions in and around urban centres, which “breached both national and international human rights law provisions guiding evictions” causing a “humanitarian crisis”.

The Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town met earlier with President Mbeki of South Africa and other religious leaders to discuss possible solutions to the current crisis in Zimbabwe.

The Archbishop said: “It is very clear to all of us that this crisis needs clear heads and options for a solution rather than political posturing in either South Africa or in Zimbabwe at this stage.”

He continued: “I do not need to remind you that the consequences of a meltdown in Zimbabwe will actually be disastrous for the whole of Southern Africa.”

Numerous NGOs and charities are now hard at work in the region, with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announcing plans to rent housing for more than 100 evicted families with disabled children and provide them with transport.

UNICEF also said it had been working in partnership with the UN World Food Programme, the International Office of Migration (IOM), the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society and local NGOs in providing hundreds of thousand of people with blankets and plastic sheeting for protection from the cold, as well as sanitation facilities, food and shelter. Home-based treatment is also being provided by the agencies for the chronically ill.

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