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Zimbabwe: Secret video footage reveals desperate plight of demolition homeless

The footage graphically illustrates the plight of the victims of the Zimbabwean government's Operation Murambatsvina, also known as Operation "Drive out the rubbish".

The footage was filmed earlier this month and includes shots of victims currently being held in Hopley Farm, an informal camp on the outskirts of Harare, set up after an official transit camp was closed by the government.

The plight of the homeless people at Hopley Farm was discovered when human rights lawyers raised grave concern about the situation and notified humanitarian agencies. Access to the Farm, which has no sanitation, was denied to humanitarian agencies until late last week.

Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International's researcher on Zimbabwe, said:

"Rather than confront the massive humanitarian crisis that its actions have created, the government of Zimbabwe is compounding suffering and human rights violations by attempting to hide the most visible signs of internal displacement.

"We now know about Hopely Farm, but how many other locations are there that the world is not aware of? How many thousands of ordinary Zimbabweans are now living in these horrifying conditions?

"We are calling on the Zimbabwean government to immediately make public all the locations to which it has transported victims of Operation Murambatsvina and to allow full and unfettered humanitarian access to them."

Last month, the United Nations released a damning report on the effects of Operation Murambatsvina.

Transit camps in Harare and Bulawayo were swiftly closed down and the inhabitants taken, mainly under cover of darkness, to be scattered in various rural areas, such as Hopley Farm, or sent back to the sites of their demolished homes.

Humanitarian agencies and NGOs believe the swift closure of the camps was a response to the UN report.

Operation Murambatsvina is estimated to have affected some 700,000 people.

The vast majority of the victims of home demolitions appear to have been absorbed into now severely overcrowded households in urban and rural areas or are sleeping outside in small groups scattered across the country.

Read a script of the footage...

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