150 000 farm workers displaced

farm_workersHARARE - The toll of President Mugabe's land grab is horrifyingly evident in a grim new report on the nomadic farm worker population. More than 150,000 Zimbabweans have been forced to leave their homes following the establishment of the inclusive government in February, the Refugee Council (RC) has claimed.

In a recent report, “Displaced and Forgotten: Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Zimbabwe”, the RC estimated that since the government’s takeover of commercial farms began in February, some 150,000 farm workers had lost their jobs.

Although some ex-commercial farm workers had been able to continue living in farm compounds, “many of those without resources have become internally displaced”.
Food security was a key concern and internal displacement had taken its toll on the most vulnerable members of the farm worker population.

“These are, in particular, people who are unattractive as labour for the new farmers and who do not have the resources required to find long-term resettlement opportunities. It includes, among others, the elderly, female-headed households, orphans and people in poor health, e.g. HIV/AIDS victims,” the report stated.

Farm worker representative groups said that in some cases, former farm workers found themselves drifting from farm to farm seeking temporary shelter and employment.
“We have noticed that people have found ways of coping. Gold panning is a major activity in some parts, but also, families have resorted to selling firewood and even their own personal assets. Unfortunately, there are those who have turned to commercial sex as way of making money to buy food,” said an aid worker with the Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe (FCTZ).

Among its recommendations, the refugee NGO called for a countrywide survey to assess the needs and coping mechanisms used by ex-farm workers. However, before such an assessment was conducted, the RC called on the government and the humanitarian community to agree on how to include farm labourers in their food aid programmes.

Post published in: Politics

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