Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2018, 12:35 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2001 - Zimbabwe

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 20 June 2001
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2001 - Zimbabwe , 20 June 2001, available at: [accessed 17 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Zimbabwe hosted about 2,000 refugees from various countries at the end of 2000.

Political violence in Zimbabwe pushed some 10,000 people from their homes during the year.

Displacement in Zimbabwe

An estimated 10,000 Zimbabweans fled their homes during the year because of political violence and intimidation prior to the country's parliamentary elections in June.

Most of the violence and displacement reportedly occurred in rural areas and small villages 25 miles (40 km) east of Harare and in the Matabeleland region of western Zimbabwe. More than 30 people died in the pre-election violence, and 500 homes were damaged or destroyed. Some uprooted families quickly returned home, while others moved in with friends and relatives. Local human rights workers and foreign observers generally blamed the country's ruling party for instigating the violence.

"The human rights situation in this country has never been as bad as it is right now," the director of a local human rights organization stated in April. "It is really quite frightening the way [members of the ruling party] have gone all out to harass and intimidate the opposition."

Long-simmering tensions over land reform peaked in 2000 when thousands of people, led by the country's so-called "war veterans," spontaneously moved onto more than 1,000 large commercial farms owned by Zimbabwe's minority white population. Government authorities ignored court orders to evict the squatters and announced a plan to accelerate its efforts to expropriate two-thirds of the country's 4,500 commercial farms.

Stand-offs between squatters and commercial farm owners led to numerous killings and international condemnation of the government's expedited land reform process. Many of the thousands of families given land during the year from the land reform program found that their new communities lacked basic infrastructure and equipment, such as health clinics, schools, and farming tools.

Refugees Hosted in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's political tensions did not directly affect 2,000 refugees from other countries who resided in Zimbabwe. However, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) made contingency plans to feed and shelter the refugee population in neighboring countries if violence threatened them in Zimbabwe.

The 2,000 refugees primarily lived at Tongogara settlement, located about 300 miles (about 500 km) east of Harare, the capital. UNHCR provided food aid and vocational training in soap-making, cotton-growing, and bee-keeping, as well as a revolving credit program for 200 refugee households. About 100 refugee children attended local primary schools; 80 children attended Zimbabwe's secondary schools or higher-level educational institutions.

Heavy rains flooded the Tongogara site during 2000 and temporarily cut off the refugees from assistance. Flood damage forced the refugees to move their homes to higher ground and placed an added strain on a UNHCR budget that already faced funding shortfalls. Fuel shortages linked to Zimbabwe's economic problems impeded travel to Tongogara by some aid workers.

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