“The UN must also act proactively by sending observers to Zimbabwe to monitor any human rights abuses,” said Caritas Internationalis President Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga.
He is urging the UN Security Council to impose an immediate arms embargo on Zimbabwe. Church leaders in the country said that without international intervention Zimbabweans face genocide.
“As Pope Benedict XVI said to the UN last week, if states are unable to guarantee the protection of their people, the international community must intervene with the juridical means provided in the United Nations Charter and in other international instruments. It is indifference or failure to intervene that does the real damage,” said the Cardinal.
In a joint statement, signed by the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, church leaders all called for outside help to end post-poll unrest.
“Organised violence perpetrated against individuals, families and communities who are accused of campaigning or voting for the ‘wrong’ political party … has been unleashed throughout the country,” the statement said.
“We warn the world that if nothing is done to help the people of Zimbabwe from their predicament, we shall soon be witnessing genocide similar to that experienced in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and other hot spots in Africa and elsewhere.
“We appeal to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union and the United Nations to work towards arresting the deteriorating political and security situation in Zimbabwe.”
Over four million people in Zimbabwe will face critically low levels of staple foods by early next year unless they receive the necessary food aid to survive over the next six months.
89-year-old Mlanzi cares for five grandchildren in a one-room mud hut in the Matobo district in Matabeleland South. Dependent on donations of food, the family does not know if they have a future. Mlanzi, who is blind, said,”Last year, life was hard but at least we had a harvest.
“This year none of my neighbours harvested anything. We planted maize and sorghum but we harvested nothing at all.
“Before, our neighbours would bring us little bits of food but they don’t have enough to share now.”
The Caritas Confederation, the second largest aid network in the world, has scaled up its operations to provide food for over 100,000 people. Caritas is helping 16,500 families with agricultural and irrigation support in planting for the next harvest. Caritas has launched an appeal for US$7 million for Zimbabwe.
Mlanzi says, “As I am blind, I need constant care from my granddaughter, who helps me get about. If I didn’t get help I would just sit and wait for my death.
“I don’t know what will happen to us in the future.”
The names in this piece have been change.