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Last Updated: Friday, 1 July, 2005, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
More deaths in Zimbabwe's blitz
Vendors salvage goods from fire started by police
So far 275,000 people are thought to have been made homeless
Three more people have died in Zimbabwe's controversial urban slum demolition scheme, says rights group Amnesty International.

UN envoy Anna Tibaijuka visited the site where two women - one pregnant - and a boy were reportedly killed.

She told homeless residents they should keep calm, reports Reuters news agency.

In a separate move, the World Food Programme (WFP) said Zimbabwe's current food shortages made it one of the most worrying countries in the world.

The month-long demolition programme is so far thought to have left 275,000 people homeless. At least three other children have been crushed to death during the operation.

Thousands of the displaced people are now living on the streets, while others have gone back to rural areas, and some have moved into unaffected parts of the cities.

UN move

United Nations chief Kofi Annan sent his envoy to Zimbabwe amid the continuing demolitions, which have been strongly criticised by the US and Britain.

Homes in Harare shanty town being destroyed
Over the last 48 hours... a shanty town of at least 10,000 people, has been obliterated
Kolawole Olaniyan
Amnesty International

The demolition site witnessed by Ms Tibaijuka was at Porta Farm, in the suburbs of the capital, Harare.

Residents told her how bulldozers destroyed their homes on Wednesday and Thursday.

"[A young boy] panicked when he saw police destroying houses and tried to run away. He didn't see the oncoming police truck which killed him," Jane Petter told her, AFP reports.

Amnesty International's Kolawole Olaniyan said: "Over the last 48 hours, Porta Farm, a shanty town of at least 10,000 people, has been obliterated."

President Robert Mugabe has defended the demolitions, arguing that they are rooting out criminals involved in black market trading, and are part of a programme to regenerate cities.

Humanitarian crisis

The UN Security Council, in a discussion on Africa's food crisis, criticised the demolitions.

Robert Mugabe
Mr Mugabe says the slums were cleared to root out crime

Britain's ambassador to the UN, Emyr Jones-Parry, said the government was to blame for many of the problems facing Zimbabwe.

"It is man-made and not a natural phenomenon. The economic collapse in Zimbabwe is the result of bad policies and bad governance," he said.

Acting US ambassador Anne Patterson said America was deeply concerned about the demolition scheme and urged the government to begin a dialogue with the opposition to help reverse the economy's continuing decline.

WFP head James Morris told the Security Council that more than four million people needed emergency food aid in Zimbabwe.

On a recent visit there, he had told Mr Mugabe that the WFP would help with food distribution, but only if it was allowed to operate freely without government interference.

He said he was told the government wanted to feed its own people.

South Africa hits back

See before and after images of township clearance in Harare.

Meanwhile South African has hit back at accusations that it has been silent about Zimbabwe's problems.

"President Thabo Mbeki has been very clear on this - he went to Zimbabwe twice, and in the presence of President Mugabe expressed his displeasure about things that were going on in Zimbabwe," South African presidential spokesman Bheki Khumalo told the BBC.

"The notion that we have not spoken out is not true.

"As Africans we must do as much as possible to encourage dialogue between [Mr Mugabe's] Zanu-PF and the [opposition] MDC," he added.

On the issue of the recent housing evictions, Mr Khumalo said South Africa would wait for the UN special envoy's findings.




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