Robin Hammond

Bulawayo, ZIMBABWE

A small boy stands in front of a bed covered with a mosquito net in a run down block of flats in Bulawayo. People were relocated to blocks of flats in Bulawayo and other cities during Operation Murambatsvina in 2005. The measure was meant to be temporary but seven years later they are still waiting for proper housing and are without electricity and water in apalling conditions. The buildings have become a hotbed of political violence. Operation Murambatsvina ('Operation Drive Out Rubbish' or 'Operation Restore Order'), started in 2005, was a campaign by the Zimbabwean government to forcibly clear slum areas around the country. According to the government the operation was meant to crack down on illegal housing and commercial activity and to prevent the spread of infectious diseases but the UN estimates that 700,000 people were directly affected through loss of housing and livelihood. It is thought that the urban poor were targeted because they have become the popular base of the internal opposition to the regime of Robert Mugabe.

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Robin Hammond
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