Zim Babies Die In Squatter Camp

“The Zimbabwean authorities have failed to monitor the health situation at Hopley. They must act immediately to combat the rate of new born deaths,” Amnesty International said through a statement signed by their deputy director for Africa, Michelle Kagari.

 “About 5,000 people live in Hopley farm settlement, some 10 km south of Zimbabwe’s capital,Harare. Conditions are dire: most live in overcrowded plastic shacks with little protection against cold or rain.Access to clean water and sanitation is a problem- people rely on unprotected wells dug at their small plots, some next to pit toilets.”

In the report by Amnesty said 21 babies died in the first five months of the year as there are no health facilities while poverty in rife at Hopley farm.One woman whose baby died said: ” I think my baby died because he swallowed bad wind. My baby died because there is no martenity clinic and because of the inhospitable conditions here. I live in a plastic shack.”

Zimbabwe government of President Robert Mugabe embarked on a demolition campaign of illegal houses and informal settlements in Harare in 2005 leaving close to one million people homeless. The campaign named Operation Murambatsvina was condemned by the United Nations humanitarian envoy, Anna Tibaijuka who blamed government for its actions.

Despite promises to build houses for the victims under Operation Garikai, a few houses were build but were not completed leaving the victims to either build shacks or live in the open since their houses were demolished.