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300 Victims Seek Refuge At US Embassy

MORE than 300 MDC supporters claiming to be victims of political violence yesterday approached the United States (US) embassy in Harare looking for food and shelter.


The supporters, 64 children, 68 women and 176 men, were staying at the party’s headquarters, Harvest House, before they went to the embassy.  At the time of going to press last night they were still camped at the embassy.

Simbarashe Mungami, one of the people, told the Zimbabwe Independent that they approached the US embassy because Harvest House could no longer accommodate them.

He said: “The number of political victims is growing every day and the space at Harvest House could not accommodate us anymore as we have no home to go back to and others cannot go back for security reasons.”

Some of the victims told the Independent that they lost their homes and property in the countdown to last Friday’s presidential run-off election that has been condemned worldwide.

Mungami claimed that the MDC’s efforts to feed them were being hindered by “thugs who are raiding and confiscating food” before it gets to them.

“The party right now has no capacity to feed and shelter all the political violence victims,” he said.
Asked why they had targeted the US embassy, the victims said they had also sought assistance from the South African and German missions in the country.

The US embassy spokesperson, Paul Engelstad, said it had no capacity to help the victims, but had contacted relief agencies to help with food and shelter.

“We have been in touch with relief agencies like Unicef and Red Cross who can assist the victims with food and shelter,” said Engelstad. “This is a big humanitarian crisis and this is just a fraction of the displaced people.”

Engelstad said the situation in the country was making it difficult for aid agencies to source and distribute food to victims of political violence.

He said: “Our hearts bleed for the people of Zimbabwe because of the huge food crisis facing the country.”  
A fortnight ago, another group of political violence victims besieged the South African embassy looking for shelter and food.

The MDC claimed that over 85 of its supporters were killed, plus 10 000 injured and more than 200 000 displaced by political violence perpetrated by state security agents, Zanu PF militia and war veterans in the countdown to the run-off.

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