Saturday, July 23, 2005


Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka recently visited Zimbabwe on a two week fact-finding mission for the UN. She looked into Operation Murambatsvina ("Get Rid of Filth"). A report (full report pdf here) has been issued:
The report ... held the government "collectively responsible" for the urban renewal operation in which an estimated 700,000 people have lost their homes, their livelihoods or both.

The program, which has affected a further 2.4 million people, was carried out in "an indiscriminate and unjustified manner, with indifference to human suffering," said the report, which called for an immediate end to further demolitions.

While noting that the Mugabe government must share responsibility for the "serious suffering" caused by the operation, Ms Tibaijuka declined to hold the president personally accountable, blaming instead an unidentified group of government advisers.

"I was not sent to apportion blame," she said, pointing to a "mixed up chain of command" and warning against simplistic generalisations.

Arguing that a charge of crimes against humanity may be difficult to sustain, the report called on the international community to encourage the Zimbabwean government "to prosecute all those who orchestrated this catastrophe."

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who appointed Ms Tibaijuka to lead the mission, said her report was "profoundly distressing," but said the priority of the international community should be urgent humanitarian assistance rather than censure.
In other words, big fucking deal.

Update: On Saturday I do my mom's shopping – she lives in a retirement home and doesn't get out much. So, I quickly assembled the post above before going out, without more than a quick look at Tibaijuka's report.

Annan's right, the report is "profoundly distressing" but no more so than all of the other meaningless UN reports that produce no action. The UN's all about producing paperwork, not action.

The title for Section B of the report pretty much sums up the burueacratic thinking behind the report:
Scope, Extent and Impact of the Operation and Capacity of the Government of Zimbabwe and the Humanitarian Community to Respond
The government of Zimbabwe creates a humanitarian disaster and the UN examines the capacity of the government – and the international community – to respond to the disaster it created. What a productive use of time and resources.


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