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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 July 2005, 21:12 GMT 22:12 UK
Zimbabwe report discussed at UN
Evicted Zimbabweans
Thousands of homes have been destroyed in the campaign
The UN Security Council has discussed a report on Zimbabwe's controversial slum demolition campaign, despite opposition from a number of member countries.

The report, prepared by UN special envoy Anna Tibaijuka, said the drive had left hundreds of thousands homeless and caused untold human misery.

The UK and US led calls for it to be discussed, but countries including China and Russia were opposed.

They said it would amount to meddling in Zimbabwe's internal affairs.

They also pointed out that Zimbabwe was not on the Security Council agenda.


The 15-member Security Council usually decides such issues by consensus, but the UK invoked a rarely used rule to get council members to hear the issue.

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

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Britain was supported by the US, France, Denmark, Romania, Greece, Japan, Argentina and Philippines - the minimum nine nations required to pass votes on procedural matters.

China, Russia, Algeria, Benin and Tanzania voted against, while Brazil abstained.

After briefing the Security Council behind closed doors, Mrs Tibaijuka said the meeting showed there was much concern about Zimbabwe and she appealed for international assistance.

Britain's UN Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said the priority now was for the Zimbabwean government to end its bulldozing of shanty towns, and for the international community to rally around the affected individuals and rush in humanitarian aid.

Zimbabwe's UN envoy, Boniface Chidyausiku, who took part in the closed meeting, said Harare had opposed council consideration of the issue "on principle".

"We did not feel that our situation warranted the attention it was receiving," he added.


Despite pleas for an end to Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out Rubbish), riot police continue to demolish illegally-built structures in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare.

Chinese President Hun Jintao ( l) and President Robert Mugabe (r)
President Hu of China (l) promised to help Zimbabwe
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe says the demolitions are intended to weed out criminals and black-market traders he accuses of bringing down the economy.

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

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

The UN report was compiled by Ms Tibaijuka after a two-week fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe.

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

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

'Look East'

Mr Mugabe is on a week-long visit to China, seeking help with Zimbabwe's economic crisis and foreign loans.

He has signed a trade deal with China, of which the contents remain unknown, but it is expected to involve loans in exchange for trade and mineral concessions.

Zimbabwe has adopted a "Look East" policy since increasing criticism from the west for alleged human rights abuses and electoral fraud.

Mr Mugabe has also asked South Africa for help repaying its debts to avoid expulsion from the IMF.

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