HARARE, 25 July (IRIN) - Ignoring a call by the United Nations to halt evictions of people living in unauthorised housing, Zimbabwean police on Friday ordered residents out of Porta Farm, one of Harare's oldest informal settlements, about 35 km west of the capital. Since the launch of Operation Murambatsvina ('Clean Out Garbage') in mid-May, the UN estimates that 700,000 people have been made homeless or lost livelihoods as a result of the blitz on the informal homes and unlicensed vending of the largely urban poor. A report by UN-HABITAT Executive Director Anna Tibaijuka after a two-week fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe recommended that the evictions, "carried out in an indiscriminate and unjustified manner, with indifference to human suffering", be stopped.
"The government of Zimbabwe should immediately halt any further demolitions of homes and informal businesses and create conditions for sustainable relief and reconstruction for those affected," read the report, presented last week to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The latest police operation at Porta Farm was the second time in a month they had tried to clear the 7,500 settlers from the area.
At the first attempt in June, homes and markets were demolished to force people to return to their rural areas, or to a holding camp at Caledonia Farm, 15 km north of Harare, but many of the residents refused to move. Aid workers said on Monday that the police were determined to clear the remaining people. Residents were being grouped according to place of origin in preparation for their transport out.
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