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UNICEF steps up action in Zimbabwe, though concerned that all affected cannot be reached

UNICEF in Zimbabwe issues an urgent appeal for funds to continue supporting tens of thousands of children affected by ongoing evictions

GENEVA/HARARE, 24 June 2005 – UNICEF today further stepped up its operations to reach the children and women currently affected by Operations Restore Order and Murambatsvina in Zimbabwe.

The operations began four weeks ago in an effort to clean up cities and to fight the black market across Zimbabwe. In doing so tens of thousands of settlements and business activities - namely homes and market stalls – have been destroyed.

UNICEF now has access to most sites across the country and in co-ordination with various Ministries and a range of NGOs and churches is distributing assistance, including water and sanitation equipment, health supplies, blankets and plastic sheeting.

Nonetheless, UNICEF expressed its concern that it was virtually impossible to reach all those affected and that huge numbers of children are now out of school. Equally the UN Children’s Fund in Zimbabwe is critically short of funds to deal with the current situation.

“We now hope that the operation will not be expanded without greater deliberation on short-term strategies to assist thousands of displaced children,” said the UN Children’s Fund Representative in Zimbabwe, Dr Festo Kavishe. “Schooling offers not only an education but also stability; it is critical we get children back in school as soon as possible.”

What is being done:

  • UNICEF is now distributing more than 25,000 litres of water each day.
  • Blankets and cooking pots continue to be distributed
  • Sanitation facilities have been improved (25more toilets) at Caledonia Farm. additional 54 being procured.
  • 10 kilometres of plastic sheeting has been distributed
  • Play equipment – balls, crayons, paper – to be distributed to under 5s in a makeshift crèche at Caledonia Farm
  • Setting up temporary outposts with key staff in other urban areas to begin interventions in government ‘transit camps’
  • Offering psychosocial support to affected children, and reunification services to displaced children.

Working in conjunction with all UN agencies, UNICEF is also calling for greater funds to expand its work to meet the growing need. Currently bereft of any international support to assist those affected, the UN Children’s Fund is seeking more than US$2.7million to continue with all existing activities, while delivering expanded and urgent health packages, a range of non-food items, continued HIV prevention and care, and to place social workers in key areas.

The current situation for children, says UNICEF, in the depths of winter, must be reversed. “Many children are now without shelter during winter, others have been separated from their parents and caregivers, schooling has been widely disrupted, access to water is difficult, and respiratory infections and diarrhoeal diseases are a real threat,” said Dr Kavishe.

UNICEF also plans to assist in organizing mobile medical clinics, together with increasing the number of blankets and shelter for children and their mothers. “We are accessing those most at need,” said Dr Kavishe, “though when asked ‘is it enough’, I have to say, in this situation, it’s never enough.”

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For further information, please  contact:

James Elder
UNICEF Zimbabwe Communication Officer
Tel: (263) 91 276120

Damien Personnaz
UNICEF media, Geneva
Tel: + 41 22 909 5716





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