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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 July, 2005, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
Zimbabwe slum demolitions resume
Evicted Zimbabweans
Thousands of homes have been destroyed in the campaign
Riot police in Zimbabwe's capital have resumed demolishing illegally-built homes, in spite of an appeal by the United Nations for an immediate halt. Hundreds of people have been forced from the Porta Farm area in Harare with police setting fire to some structures.

A UN report released last week condemned the two-month campaign. About 700,000 people have lost their homes or livelihoods in the operation.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is to visit to inspect the programme.

Last week a UN report said the campaign violated international law and Mr Annan himself called it a "catastrophic injustice" to Zimbabwe's poorest.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has criticised the UN report.

"He did invite me to come," Mr Annan said on Monday.

"I would want to go to see how we can resolve some of the issues raised in the report. But I have not set a date yet."

He added that the UN hoped to assemble any necessary aid for those affected while working with the Zimbabwean government to change the situation.

The scale of suffering is immense, particularly among widows, single mothers, children, orphans, the elderly and disabled persons

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Zimbabwe says its policy - known as Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out Rubbish) - is intended to crack down on black-market trading and other criminal activity in slum areas.

Hundreds of thousands of homes in the country's shanty towns have been torched and bulldozed in recent months.

The UN report was compiled by Mr Annan's special envoy, Anna Tibaijuka, after a two-week fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe.

The report found that programme had been carried out in "an indiscriminate and unjustified manner, with indifference to human suffering".

Zimbabwe's government, it said, was collectively responsible and it urged prosecution of those who "may have caused criminal negligence".

See before and after images of township clearance in Harare.

But Zimbabwe said the allegations were "definitely false" and that the report showed an "in-built bias".

Quoting a presidential spokesman, Zimbabwe's official Herald newspaper said Mr Mugabe had spoken to Mr Annan on Friday and asked why his country was being queried for "embarking on a programme to clean up its urban centres and provide decent houses and business premises to those affected".

The Zimbabwean opposition says the evictions are meant to punish urban residents, who have tended to vote against the government.

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