220,00 Children: Creating A Lost Generation in Zimbabwe

October 11, 2011

Hopley settlement, Harare, Zimbabwe. ©Amnesty International

On October 10th, Zimbabwe went before the United Nations Human Rights Council to answer concerns about the country’s human rights record. One issue Amnesty raised in its submission to the Council is the lingering effects of Operation Murambatsvina.

In 2005, the government of Zimbabwe destroyed homes and businesses in informal settlements, displacing an estimated 700,000 people. This is the same as wiping out the entire city of Columbus, Ohio. Since then, the government has failed to address the needs of these people in any meaningful fashion.

New settlements sprang up to house those forcibly evicted, some sponsored by the government, like Hopley settlement outside Harare. These, however, are woefully inadequate. In addition to lack of proper housing, improper sanitation and public safety concerns, there are egregiously high rates of infant mortality at Hopley.

Our new report, Left behind: The impact of Zimbabwe’s mass forced evictions on the right to education, examines the devastating effect Operation Murambatsvina has had on children. Amnesty found an estimated 220,000 children between the ages of five and 18 experienced some degree of educational disruption. Zimbabwe used to have one of the top educational systems in the world-now it’s creating a lost generation.

The government of Zimbabwe has obligations under international human rights instruments to educate its children. Amnesty is calling on the government to take concrete actions to address educational deficiencies at Hopley and other informal settlements. These children, already displaced by their government, deserve the opportunity to learn and grow. Tell Zimbabwe education is a human right.