THE United Nations (UN) country representative, Agostinho Zacarias, has threatened to close the world bodyâ€™s offices in Zimbabwe if political violence targeting humanitarian aid workers is not stopped.
According to sources within the organisation, Zacarias on Wednesday met with police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and told him that the UN was considering relocation to neighbouring countries due to escalating political violence in the country.
“Zacarias and Chihuri met this Wednesday,” said one of the sources. “He expressed concern over continued harassment and intimidation of aid workers and gave Chihuri an ultimatum to ensure security of UN personnel.”
According to the source, Zacarias warned that if the intimidation of UN workers continued the organisation would change the countryâ€™s security rating from two (restricted movement of diplomats) to category three (relocation of UN offices).”
Chihuri, according to the source, promised the UN representative that the police would issue “special letters” for UN humanitarian aid workers to ensure their safety throughout the country.
In an inter-office memorandum Zacarias said there were reported cases of political violence throughout the country and feared that the simmering tension between the MDC and Zanu PF would affect operations of the UN local office.
“Since March 29, there have been cases where our UN colleagues, especially national staff have been harassed by youths and others who were politically motivated,” Zacarias said in the memorandum dated June 24.
By Bernard Mpofu