Zimbabwean Doctors Warn of Death, Disease From Demolitions Campaign
July 8, 2005
On Tuesday, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights released a statement saying the government's campaign of bulldozing unauthorized structures -- including shacks, markets and nurseries -- has put hundreds of thousands at risk of death and disease, including HIV/AIDS. Operation Restore Order/Operation Murambatsvina ("Get rid of the filth")is now in its seventh week, and four children and two adults have died as a result. ZADHR said more deaths are likely "among already vulnerable children, chronically ill adults and the elderly forced to live through nights in the open at the coldest time of the year."
ZADHR said the demolitions are likely to increase the spread of HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe, where nearly one in four adults is infected. Families broken apart could leave women and children vulnerable to sexual exploitation, the doctors said. Community programs that provide HIV treatment will likely be complicated by the campaign.
The evictions have created "ideal conditions" for "the spread of infectious disease due to the lack of proper sanitation or water supply for hundreds of thousands of people," said ZADHR. The doctors also predicted a rise in malnutrition following the destruction of markets that provided a livelihood for the majority in a country with a 70 percent unemployment rate.
The Zimbabwean government said recently it was wrapping up the campaign and would rebuild new houses and market stalls. "Any government with even the most basic concern for the welfare of its citizens would have ensured that replacement housing was in place prior to the destruction of existing dwellings and that such an exercise was carried out in a phased and orderly manner," ZADHR responded.
Agence France Press
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.