Aid agency calls on EU to renew targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe

By staff writers
January 11, 2007

Evangelical aid agency Tearfund is calling on the European Union (EU) to renew targeted sanctions against the country.

In February, the EU is due to decide whether or not to extend existing sanctions for a further year.

The agency has expressed concern that some countries in the EU would prefer to suspend the sanctions, believing that dialogue with Zimbabwe leaders could bring about change.

The sanctions are directed at President Mugabe and other leaders who campaigners say, have led the country into economic and political chaos.

The sanctions are designed not to hurt Zimbabwe’s poor.

Tearfund is urging supporters to put pressure on the EU to maintain the sanctions by writing to MEPs.

The sanctions currently prevent Mugabe and his associates from travelling to the EU, freeze any assets they hold in the EU and include an arms embargo.

They were first imposed in 2002 when the Zimbabwe elections held that year were neither free nor fair, and because of human rights abuses being committed by the government of Zimbabwe.

The EU has renewed these bans each year since.

Campaigners say that to abandon these sanctions when living conditions in the country continue to worsen will send the message that the EU no longer deems good governance and respect for human rights to be essential prerequisites for discussions about development in Zimbabwe.

Life expectancy for women is only 34 – the lowest in the world. Inflation is the world’s highest and Zimbabwe is now the country with the highest number of orphans.

A new survey, compiled by Zimbabwe’s public service and social welfare ministry, suggests that living standards have declined by 150 per cent in the last ten years.

In May 2005, Operation Murambatsvina saw the destruction of homes and jobs of some of Zimbabwe’s poorest people by the government. One year on from this devastating action, few of those made homeless have been re-housed as promised.

In May 2006 when church leaders were detained and warned that prayer services to mark the anniversary would be broken up and people would be arrested.

Tearfund's campaign is being held in conjunction with Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) - a campaigning body which tries to influence British and European policies that affect southern Africa.

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