Although the strife in Gaza has been at the forefront of my mind lately, I cannot ignore the struggles that are ongoing in other parts of the world. In the case of Palestine, I’ve done a lot of reading and am familiar with the ins and outs of the situation. I don’t know why I’ve paid particular attention to that over turmoil in other countries. Perhaps it was due to other people around me having a similar interest, perhaps its because I know a few people from that area, or maybe its because our close neighbour, the US, is so closely linked to it. I am admittedly not so familiar with other humanitarian crises.
Recently, however, a friend on Facebook opened my eyes to the reality of living in Zimbabwe. To be frank, I was horrified. For years I have heard about Zimbabwe but my knowledge of the state is very limited. I know that Robert Mugabe leads what some would call a murderous regime – with, what looks to me, sufficient evidence to back it up. I have also heard about the brutal Congolese war (officially called the Second Congo War) in which Zimbabwe was involved and over 5 million people died as the result. And lastly I had heard reports of Mugabe’s repression of the white minority in Zimbabwe – but it is clear that his repression is not limited to one colour.
An article in the Harare Tribune, Zimbabwe: Signs of a Failed State, outlines the disastrous conditions now inherent in that country. According to the article, 3000 Zimbabweans die every week mostly due to starvation and disease (HIV Aids and Cholera). The living situation is so dire that they, the writers of the article, are calling upon the international community to intervene. Jon Elliot, the Africa Advocacy Director of the human rights group, Human Rights Watch, recently sent a letter to the African Union chairman in which he makes the following remarks about Zimbabwe:
The situation in Zimbabwe resembles the last days of Mobutu’s Zaire and is now desperate. Over 2,000 people have now died in a cholera epidemic, and tens of thousands are now infected. This disease is easy to manage if backed by competent government and policy. New Human Rights Watch research, published this week, shows that the epidemic has a simple cause: the ruling ZANU-PF leadership’s diversion of resources away from basic public health, towards sustaining its illegitimate rule, personal enrichment and oppressing its MDC opponents. Instead of tackling the humanitarian crisis, the Mugabe regime has focused on fabricating evidence that human rights defenders and others seek its overthrow.
The cholera deaths come on top of thousands from hunger or hunger-related disease. More than five million Zimbabweans – half the population – will need international food aid this year. With victims of cholera, hunger and political repression now fleeing across Zimbabwe’s border, the regional situation is dire.
I only ask that you look at these articles. It is, indeed, an eye-opener for those not familiar and then, I’m sure, like me, you’ll be asking – what can I do? My first thought was to help get the word out.