cholera zimbabwe, water zimbabwe, mugabe cholera
Associated Press
A youngster carries a child on her back through a stream of polluted water in Harare,

Doctors Condemn Zimbabwe’s Leaders as Cholera Death Toll Rises

January 14, 2009 12:51 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A new report by the group Physicians for Human Rights criticizes the regime of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe for the collapse of the country.

Cholera Claims More Victims

According to new data from the World Health Organization, the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe has killed 2,024, and there have been about 39,806 diagnosed cases total. The capital city Harare has been hit the hardest, with 238 recorded deaths and 10,813 cases.

As deaths mount, the U.S. agency Physicians for Human Rights released a new report in which it accuses Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party of human rights abuses for destroying the nation’s health-care system. The group suggests that Zimbabwe be investigated by the International Criminal Court and be taken control of by the UN.

“These findings add to the growing evidence that Robert Mugabe and his regime may well be guilty of crimes against humanity,” the report said.

Some reports indicate that measures are being taken to relieve the situation. The government recently formed an alliance with several nongovernment organizations, and Oxfam spokesman Paul Davenport says that they are making some progress. “We’ve got several hundred people based in a number of offices around Zimbabwe and we’re working in the area of water supply and sanitation,” he said to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

But The Wall Street Journal reports that Zimbabweans also face a new security crackdown by Mugabe’s regime that may indicate that they are trying to prevent threats to their stronghold on power, further putting citizens’ rights at risk.

Background: Cholera breaks out, government asks for international aid

In December, experts warned that the epidemic could eventually affect more than 60,000 and that half of the country’s 12 million people were at risk. The World Health Organization said that the outbreak could lead to “serious regional implications,” as South African officials were already reporting that refugees in the Limpopo region on its border with Zimbabwe were spreading disease.

President Robert Mugabe last month declared in a televised speech that the cholera epidemic was over. “I am happy to say … that there is no cholera,” he announced, according to The Economist magazine, which called his remarks an attempt to “deflect” foreign criticism ahead of a United Nations special session on Zimbabwe.

“The delusion of Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, appears to know no end,” commented The Economist.

Zimbabwe’s government said it was in need of aid to buy food, drugs and medical costs such as equipment and doctors’ salaries, after the government declared a state of emergency. Zimbabweans have been struggling to find food and clean drinking water. The country had also recently seen wholesale economic collapse and the highest inflation in the world, which caused cash to become scarce.
Several international entities have already pledged aid, such as the U.S. Agency for International Development, which planned to provide an extra $600,000 specifically for the cholera outbreak; the European Commission, which was to send $12 million for drugs and clean water; and the International Red Cross, which sent supplies last month.

Around the same time, the BBC reported that Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga was calling for Mugabe’s removal, citing the death of power-sharing talks in the country. “It’s time for African governments … to push him out of power,” Odinga said after talks with Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, in what the BBC called some of the strongest comments against Mugabe by any African leader.

Reference: What is cholera?


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