International aid workers kicked out of Hopley

HARARE - Zimbabwe authorities has banned Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) from assisting displaced families at a holding camp outside Harare after the international medical aid group issued a damning report on deteriorating health conditions at the camp. The report - which received wide publicity in Zi

mbabwe’s private media and abroad last week – said Hopley Farm camp on Harare’s southern border had been hit by an outbreak of scabies, tuberculosis, pneumonia, malaria and sexually transmitted infections because of squalid conditions at the camp.
Hopley was set up as a temporary home for thousands of families left homeless and without means of livelihood after the government last year demolished shantytowns, city backyard cottages and informal business kiosks in a controversial urban renewal exercise the United Nations said left 700 000 people homeless and indirectly affected another 2.4 million people.
“There was a directive from Dr Mungofa (Stanley) ordering a social welfare officer, Mr Ezekiel Mpande, to chuck the guys out with immediate effect. They have since been booted out of the camp,” said a source, who did not want to be named. Mungofa, who is the Harare health services director and was working with MSF to provide health services to victims of the clean-up exercise at the settlement, was not available for comment on the matter yesterday.
Mpande, who is in charge of the settlement, referred all questions to Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche who however could not be reached for comment. An official at MSF offices in Harare confirmed that the aid organisation had stopped operations at Hopley but refused to comment further in line with the organisation’s policy that only its director speaks to the media.
“It’s true but our director Mr Steve Hide is in Amsterdam for an urgent meeting. He is the only person who can give a comment to the press about our operations here,” said the official, who also refused to be named.
Meanwhile on Thursday last week, angry Hopley residents besieged government offices at the camp demanding the return of MSF. But they were quickly dispersed by security personnel at the camp. In the report MSF said it had treated 5 342 patients between January and March this year most of them suffering from skin and respiratory infections that are associated with a squalid living environment. “In the same period, MSF diagnosed 30 malaria cases and many sexually transmitted infections, some linked to prostitution which in turn is partly caused by lack of food in the settlement,” the MSF report reads in part.
Harare routinely accuses especially Western-based non-governmental organisations of using the pretext of carrying out humanitarian work while trying to ferment an uprising by Zimbabweans against President Robert Mugabe and his government. – ZimOnline

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