The Government views with great concern the recent actions by the Zimbabwean Government, which have resulted in an estimated 275,000 people being left homeless, as a result of Operation Restore Order, aimed at clearing away the businesses of informal street traders and unregistered homes built by the urban poor. Ireland and its EU partners have joined many others in the international community in condemning the totally unjustified actions of the Zimbabwean Government which have only succeeded in worsening the humanitarian situation in a country already facing serious food shortages this year and currently experiencing unemployment levels of between 70% and 80%.
The serious humanitarian consequences arising from Operation Restore Order has once again highlighted the failed policies of President Mugabe's Government. It is important that international pressure continues to be exerted on the Zimbabwean authorities to cease this campaign as soon as possible, to assist those who have been left homeless or in want as a result and to begin implementing democratic reforms to move away from the climate of repression and intimidation, which has characterised Zimbabwe in recent years. In this regard, I very much welcome the decision by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, to appoint Ms Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, the executive director of UN Habitat, as his special envoy to assess the humanitarian consequences of the forcible eviction policies currently being pursued. Ms Kajumulo Tibaijuka is currently in Zimbabwe and will submit a full report on the situation to the Secretary General following her visit.
The Irish ambassador to South Africa, who is also accredited to Zimbabwe, visited Harare earlier this month in order to assess the humanitarian consequences of Operation Restore Order and has already submitted a full report to me on his visit. The ambassador will visit Zimbabwe again in the coming weeks and will make clear to the Zimbabwean authorities both our condemnation of Operation Restore Order and grave concerns at its humanitarian consequences. The ambassador and embassy are also in regular contact with Irish missionaries and NGOs operating in Zimbabwe who have been providing assistance to some of those worst affected by the consequences of Operation Restore Order.
The Government decided last week to provide an additional €1 million to the World Food Programme to support emergency feeding programmes for those most directly at threat from the current humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. This additional funding will also be used to support emergency feeding programmes in Malawi. The Government has made available almost €7 million in emergency and recovery assistance to assist the people of Zimbabwe over the period 2002-2004, including €2.46 million last year.
The European Union issued a declaration on 7 June condemning the actions undertaken by the Zimbabwean Government within the framework of Operation Restore Order and calling for its immediate end. A joint statement was also issued following the EU-US summit in Washington DC on 20 June expressing grave concern at the current situation and calling on the Zimbabwean Government to reverse its anti-democratic policies. It is clear that pressure also needs to be exerted on Zimbabwe's neighbours in the Southern Africa Development Community, SADC, to use their influence with President Mugabe's Government to stop Operation Restore Order and address the humanitarian consequences. EU ambassadors are being directed to make such representations in SADC capitals. The EU's concerns were also raised at a senior officials meeting with SADC, which took place in Johannesburg on 20 June. I hope that AU leaders will address the human rights and humanitarian crisis resulting from Operation Restore Order at their forthcoming summit meeting in Sirte, Libya on 4 and 5 July.