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31 December 2012
People in Zimbabwe have been internally displaced since 2000 as a result of various government policies and actions. Those affected include former farm workers and their families who were either evicted from their homes and farms under the fasttrack land reform programme, or were forced to leave after losing their jobs as agricultural workers. Others were displaced as a result of informal settlement evictions in Zimbabwe’s towns and cities, by government action against informal mine workers and by politically motivated violence. Of the last group, most have been able to return home since the 2008 elections.
IDPs’ conditions continued to vary widely in 2012, depending on the reasons for their displacement and the length of time they had been displaced. Their needs ranged from emergency humanitarian assistance to interventions aimed at securing durable solutions. For a significant proportion of IDPs, insecure tenure over either land or housing and a lack of access to civil registration and documentation presented major obstacles - both to their attaining a durable solution, whether via local integration or return to their places of origin, and to accessing essential services such as education and health care. There was no official information on the number of IDPs in the country in 2012.
The response to internal displacement in Zimbabwe has improved significantly in recent years. The government acknowledged the existence of the phenomenon in the country in the 2008 Global Political Agreement, and in 2009 it participated with the UN in a rapid assessment to determine its scope. The findings of the assessment, however, had not been released as of the end of 2012, and plans for an updated assessment and a nationwide quantitative survey had not moved forward. The gathering and publication of this information would help the government and its partners provide appropriate assistance to IDPs and support their achievement of durable solutions.
Under the protection cluster led by UNHCR, which was formed in 2008, matters relating to displacement are coordinated by the IOM-led IDP sub-cluster. A number of line ministries have participated in cluster coordination mechanisms and they have gradually allowed humanitarian workers greater access to vulnerable groups, including IDPs.
Access permitting, the government and its development and humanitarian partners made increasing use of community-based planning during 2012 to respond to the needs of IDPs and their host communities together. Representatives of all groups within a certain community, including IDPs, were invited to collaborate in identifying durable solutions and a common development strategy in line with the government’s national development planning structures.
Humanitarian agencies working with national and local authorities applied this approach in developing a framework for the voluntary resettlement of IDPs in new locations. The Framework for the Resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons in Zimbabwe is based on the IASC Framework for Durable Solutions and the AU Convention for the Protection and Assistance of IDPs in Africa, and incorporates the Guiding Principles. It places emphasis on ensuring that any decision to resettle is voluntary, and on guaranteeing security of tenure and livelihood opportunities for resettled IDPs. The protection cluster formally endorsed the framework in 2011.
Zimbabwe was the second country to sign the Kampala Convention in October 2009, but the government was still to ratify it as of the end of 2012. There are concrete signs that it will move towards doing so in 2013.
The situation of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Zimbabwe varies widely, depending on the reasons for their displacement and the length of time they have been displaced. Accordingly, their needs range from emergency humanitarian assistance to interventions aimed at securing durable solutions. A significant proportion of IDPs would choose to integrate in the place they were displaced to, but their lack of security of tenure presents a major obstacle to this.
Since the formation of the Government of National Unity in February 2009, the government’s approach to internal displacement has begun to improve. While previous governments did not acknowledge internal displacement in the country, in August 2009 the government participated in a rapid IDP assessment with the United Nations, and has called for a more comprehensive nationwide survey of IDPs to be conducted. This has not yet taken place and is one cause of the lack of information on the scale of continuing internal displacement. Meanwhile, under the new government, the access of humanitarians to IDPs has improved considerably.
Displacement occurred as a result of different government policies and actions. The two largest groups of IDPs are farm workers and their families who have been displaced as a result of losing their employment on farms which were seized and reallocated during the fast-track land reform programme, and people displaced as a result of evictions in Zimbabwe’s towns and cities. Others were displaced by government campaigns against informal mine workers, and by politically-motivated violence. Of the last group, most were able to return home after the 2008 elections, while many of the first three groups have been able to find other durable solutions. There has been an increase in 2011 in initiatives by the government and civil society organisations to promote durable solutions, in which IDPs and host communities have actively participated.
In October 2009, President Mugabe was the second head of state to sign the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of IDPs in Africa (the Kampala Convention).
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20 December 2011