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Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 29 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his most recent assessment is of (a) the humanitarian and (b) human rights situation in Zimbabwe; and what measures he plans to take to address the problems identified in that assessment. [109178]

The latest humanitarian estimate is that over 7 million Zimbabweans are currently dependent on food aid. We have provided £51 million in humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe since September 2001. We, through the UN and non-governmental organisations, are providing supplementary food to more than 1.5 million Zimbabweans a day, mainly children, pregnant mothers, unemployed farm workers and the elderly. Prospects for the coming year are under assessment.The human rights situation continues to deteriorate. A successful "stayaway" from work on 18 and 19 March was followed by a wave of violence, largely against the opposition party and its supporters. There were over 500 arrests, 250 people hospitalised, and one death. Scores of people were beaten and tortured while in police custody. Both the Vice-President of the MDC and the party's parliamentary speaker were arrested. The EU has condemned the violence and sponsored a resolution on Zimbabwe at the UN Commission on Human Rights.