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Suffering Persists After Zimbabwe Razing Campaign

Winnie Kondo with son, Bellington, on the banks of the Mukuvisi River in Harare, Zimbabwe. Kondo says Bellington's twin sister Belinda would still be alive if the government hadn't destroyed their home in last year's urban cleanup campaign.
Jason Beaubien, NPR
Winnie Kondo with son, Bellington, on the banks of the Mukuvisi River in Harare, Zimbabwe. Kondo says Bellington's twin sister Belinda would still be alive if the government hadn't destroyed their home in last year's urban cleanup campaign.

As Zimbabwe's economy collapses under 1,000 percent inflation, many of the people uprooted by a slum-clearance campaign last year remain homeless and unemployed. Human-rights activists in the Southern African nation say the country is on the verge of social upheaval.

A year ago in May, the government of Zimbabwe launched a weeks-long, urban cleanup drive called Operation Murambatsvina. Police and soldiers swept through the slums of Zimbabwe's cities, destroying the houses and informal markets of some 700,000 people.

The government says it was a campaign to eliminate illegally constructed buildings. Critics say it was an effort to punish opponents of President Robert Mugabe.

In addition to the misery inflicted by Operation Murambatsvina, the nation is entering its eighth year of recession. The capital is suffering water and power cuts; fuel and foreign currency shortages are chronic; and almost one-third of the population relies on international food aid to survive.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jason Beaubien is NPR's Global Health and Development Correspondent on the Science Desk.

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