THE United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) strongly denounces the political violence that has displaced at least 10 000 children in Zimbabwe and that is affecting the continued delivery of humanitarian relief to children and their families in parts of the country.
Zimbabwe’s politically-motivated violence has resulted in the destruction of hundreds of homes, thousands of children have not returning to school after the April 29 restart of classes, and scores of children beaten.
It has seen children turned away from schools, and in some cases schools used as centres of torture.
Adding to the volatility of the situation for thousands of Zimbabweans who have fled to South Africa are the recent attacks on foreigners in that country. As many as 20 000 Zimbabwean children and women were forced to flee their homes during these recent attacks in and around Johannesburg. Recent reports suggest that up to 80 000 people have been displaced, Zimbabweans the most affected. There are thought to be as many as three million Zimbabweans who have fled their country’s economic and political turmoil, a majority of whom now live in neighbouring South Africa.
Unicef is also greatly concerned over the continuity of programmes for hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable children and orphans who benefit from those programmes in Zimbabwe because of violence and restrictions. Of the dozens of NGOs contacted by Unicef, who help implement programmes for children, more than half have restricted their activities for children due to threats, requests to do so by authorities or general “concern at current uncertainties”.
In the past two weeks Unicef in Zimbabwe has increased its emergency support to more than 25 000 individuals, and continues to supply blankets, soap and clean water to new cases.
However, it is vital that security be restored and violence ended so that all vulnerable children who are in need of assistance receive it.