That has been the pattern lately: with opposition figures in hiding, Mr. Mugabe’s goons kill loved ones to send a message of intimidation. Even the wife of the mayor-elect of Harare, the capital, was kidnapped and beaten to death.
NON PROFITS FORCED TO LEAVE, MANY LOSE AID
From NYTimes.com --
CARE, one of the largest nonprofit groups working in the country, has been ordered by the Zimbabwean government to suspend all its operations, which help 500,000 of the country’s most vulnerable people. This month alone, CARE would have fed more than 110,000 people in schools, orphanages, old-age homes and in various programs, it said.
But the aid restrictions go far beyond any one group. Muktar Farah, deputy head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Zimbabwe, said Tuesday that millions of people had lost assistance because of what he called “the shrinking of humanitarian space.”
Aid workers and human rights groups say the restrictions are meant to prevent them from witnessing attacks on opposition supporters, often in nighttime raids, amid the government’s increasingly violent and deadly crackdown on those it sees as a threat to its hold on power.
The United Nations Children’s Fund said Monday that 10,000 children had been displaced by the violence, scores had been beaten and some schools had been taken over by pro-government forces and turned into centers of torture. In a statement, it expressed worry about the welfare of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable and orphaned children, given how many aid groups have restricted their operations “due to threats, requests to do so by authorities or general ‘concern at current uncertainties.’ ”
Zimbabwean political analysts and civic leaders say that Mr. Mugabe and ZANU-PF, his governing party, are themselves seeking to use food as a political weapon in a country, once the region’s bread basket, where hunger now afflicts millions. The government recently bought 600,000 tons of corn. By barring NGOs from giving out food in some areas, the governing party controls food distribution and can use it as an inducement to win support.
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
With many aid groups forced, my honest answer is that from a single-person standpoint, I'm not sure. Prayer is our strongest weapon, and I don't just mean that in the abstract. I mean, literally, practically, as Christians, we are called to have faith in the true power of prayer to the living Lord.
We can also support the political sanctions our government has recently called for. Perhaps letter campaigns, calling your representatives, writing to newspapers, websites, TV, radio, etc etc and making it an issue to be concerned about is needed.
If you think those methods work, the fact that Darfur is a household name says a lot to the grassroots work of non-profits, Christian and other religious organizations, and others.