ACN News: Tuesday, 29th April 2008 – ZIMBABWE
Zimbabwe – “Genocide in the making”
By John Newton
FAMILIES in Zimbabwe have had their homes bulldozed by armed police, been left without food and water, and are reduced to begging in the streets where they are forced to sleep in freezing temperatures.
Such is the traumatic situation described by an eye-witness, who has sent a message which has been passed to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.
The message comes after ACN decided to give more help to the suffering people of Zimbabwe.
The author of the message, who wishes to remain anonymous because of fears for his family’s safety, described the terror gripping the country.
In the message, he said: “We are all terrified at what they are going to destroy next. I mean they are actually ploughing down brick and mortar houses.
“One white family with twin boys of 10 had no chance of salvaging anything when a hundred riot police came in with AK47 [assault rifle]s and bulldozers and demolished their beautiful house – five bedrooms and pine ceilings – because it was ‘too close to the airport’, so we are feeling extremely insecure right now.
“To be frank with you, it’s genocide in the making,” he said.
The message comes at a time when ACN is about to give more emergency help, details of which are due to be announced shortly.
This aid is on top of the charity’s ongoing support for the pastoral and humanitarian work of missionary congregations working with the poor and dispossessed.
In his message, the eye-witness went on to describe the human cost of the atrocities.
He wrote: “Today a family approached me, [the] brother of the gardener’s wife with two small children. Their home was trashed and they will have to sleep outside.
“We already support eight adult people and a child on this property, and electricity is going up next month by 250 percent, as is water. How can I take on another family of four – and yet how can I turn them away to sleep out in the open?”
A statement from Zimbabwe’s Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Council of Churches, and the Evangelical Fellowship claim that those who voted against Robert Mugabe are being tortured, abducted and murdered.
The statement warned that “if nothing is done to help the people of Zimbabwe from their predicament, we shall soon be witnessing genocide”.
ACN was told by Fr Chris Smith of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) that they are getting more reports of violence and targeted retaliation.
With reports of violence escalating, the Church is concerned about armaments destined for land-locked Zimbabwe being transported via South Africa.
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, spokesman for the SACBC, said, “I call on the South Africa government not to allow any more arms and munitions to enter Zimbabwe through South Africa until an acceptable solution is found to the present situation.”
While the president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, said “I do not think we have reached the stage of [an] arms embargo in Zimbabwe”, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Wednesday (23rd) that the British government “will promote proposals for an embargo on all arms to Zimbabwe.”
On Thursday (24th), China’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that a ship bound for Zimbabwe with a cargo of mortar bombs and munitions from China would turn back without unloading its cargo, after dockworkers in Durban, South Africa refused to unload it.
With inflation at more than 165,000 percent, ACN is continuing to support various projects including a $25,000 emergency food programme for people in the Archdiocese of Bulawayo threatened with starvation.
More than 500 children – many of them orphans – are receiving food and medical support via a programme run by Sisters in the Archdiocese.
According to the U.N. World Food Program, a third of the country’s 12 million people will face starvation unless they receive aid.
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity”, the organisation is now at work in about 145 countries throughout the world.
The charity – whose UK office is in Sutton, Surrey – undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 45 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.
For more information, please contact the Sydney office of ACN on (02) 9679-1929. e-mail: email@example.com or write to Aid to the Church in Need PO Box 6245 Blacktown DC NSW 2148. Web:www.aidtochurch.org