Monday, October 24, 2005

The nightmare of Zimbabwe

The good people at Coalition for Darfur, of which I'm a member, sent out a link to this fascinating (and terrifying) piece about Zimbabwe's "dust people" in The Times:

Some call them the “dust people”, others the “people with no address”. President Robert Mugabe’s government has a more graphic term: “Sniff out the rats who have sneaked back in” is the name of the latest campaign by police and soldiers against the city dwellers whose homes they demolished earlier this year but who have refused to flee.

Thousands of Zimbabweans are now living like animals in the midst of rubble, crawling in and out of hovels less than 3ft high, fashioned from cardboard boxes and broken asbestos.

With no means of earning a living — and with aid agencies banned by the government from helping them — they are forced to forage in rubbish for rotten vegetables or prostitute themselves for the equivalent of 10p to feed their children. A doctor who managed to get in said tuberculosis was rife.

These are the victims of Operation Murambatsvina (drive out the filth), Mugabe’s so-called urban beautification campaign which, according to a damning report by the United Nations, left more than 700,000 homeless or without an income.

Oh, and here's how the "international community" deals with Mugabe, one of the world's worst thugs:

Yet last week the United Nations flew Zimbabwe’s president on an all-expenses-paid trip to Rome to celebrate World Food Day in defiance of European Union travel sanctions. Flanked by bodyguards, he proclaimed that there was no hunger in his country and blamed its problems on George W Bush and Tony Blair, branding them international terrorists and likening them to Hitler and Mussolini.

How petty our current preoccupations seem -- Miers, Plamegate, etc. Live8 notwithstanding, hardly anyone pays attention to Africa, let alone to Darfur, let alone to Zimbabwe. Yet Mugabe is terrorizing his people in an effort to "cleanse" his country of undesirables. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people have been left homeless. How many have died?

Yet the United Nations turns away and we in the West don't do much better. I've never been one to demonize the U.N., but its treatment of Mugabe is simply shameful. Where's the outrage? Or has the U.N. absolutely no credibility left?

Anyway, the Times article is a must-read. Make sure to check it out.

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