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Archived - Canada Concerned over Worsening Situation in Zimbabwe

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December 15, 2008
No. 246

The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today commented on the worsening humanitarian, economic and human-rights situation in Zimbabwe.

"Canada is alarmed by the worsening humanitarian, economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe, which is claiming the lives of more Zimbabweans every day and threatening the stability of the region.

"The World Health Organization estimates that over the last month, the cholera epidemic has taken nearly 1,000 lives. The breakdown of government has resulted in the collapse of even the most basic services, such as clean water and health care.

"Canada is also deeply concerned over the recent return to a pattern of human-rights abuses and abductions, as seen in the abductions of Jestina Mukoko, Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, two of her colleagues and more than a dozen members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. The Zimbabwe Peace Project has documented thousands of incidents of violence and brutality by government authorities. We note the decision of the High Court in Zimbabwe ordering a search for Jestina Mukoko, and await the results.

"Canada calls for the urgent engagement of regional leaders in this crisis. The African Union and the Southern Africa Development Community, as guarantors of the power-sharing agreement signed by Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai on September 15, 2008, have an important role to play in ensuring the implementation of a solution that respects the will of the Zimbabwean people.

"Canada also calls for renewed consideration of this crisis by the UN Security Council.

"Canada's support for the Zimbabwean people, including humanitarian assistance and support for civil society, will continue."

Since July 2007, the Government of Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), has provided nearly $10 million in humanitarian assistance. Close to $4 million was provided for water and sanitation, emergency medicines, and coordination activities with the remaining $6 million funding food aid through the World Food Program.

CIDA also announced today that it will provide World Vision Canada with up to $500,000 to offset the cost of transporting a shipment of life-saving medicine to Zimbabwe. The shipment will include antibiotics and oral-rehydration salts, specially formulated for use by children. This will help ensure that thousands of children in Zimbabwe have access to medications critically needed to combat the effects of cholera. World Vision will distribute the donated medications, worth over $4.7 million, to four clinics and hospitals serving 1,300 patients monthly. World Vision, which has worked in Zimbabwe since 1973, operates extensive community-development projects in the country.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Natalie Sarafian
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

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