Australia will strengthen its sanctions against the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe.
The strengthened sanctions are a clear signal that the Australian Government holds the brutal Mugabe regime and its closest supporters accountable for the tragedy occurring in Zimbabwe.
The Government has added 75 individuals and four companies to the list of regime members and supporters against whom financial and visa restrictions apply.
Australian sanctions are carefully targeted against the regime to avoid harming the Zimbabwean people.
At the same time, the Government is announcing further humanitarian assistance for the people of Zimbabwe.
The United Nations has reported more than 18,000 suspected cases of cholera in Zimbabwe, and 1,000 deaths. Cholera cases have also been confirmed in the neighbouring countries of Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa.
In response to the severe cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe, Australia will provide a further $1 million for assistance in emergency relief for the people of Zimbabwe.
Of this, $800,000 will go to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to help meet the immediate needs of women and children affected by the cholera epidemic. Australia’s funding will help provide safe drinking water, water treatment chemicals, hygiene kits and essential medicines.
The remaining $200,000 will be provided to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to support measures in border areas for mobile and vulnerable populations. This support will help prevent the cholera epidemic spreading further to neighbouring countries.
These latest contributions through UNICEF and the IOM are part of a larger commitment by Australia to help relieve the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe and brings Australia’s total humanitarian assistance to $21 million in 2008-09, making Australia the fifth largest humanitarian donor to Zimbabwe.
It follows $8 million in humanitarian aid announced on 25 November. This comprised $6 million in essential food aid through the World Food Programme (WFP) and $2 million to the UK’s Department for International Development’s (DFID’s) Protracted Relief Programme implemented through NGOs. This will help improve food security and improve access to clean water and sanitation.
The best solution for Zimbabwe would be for Mr Mugabe and his regime’s close supporters to stand down to allow Zimbabwe to rebuild its economy, society, and democracy.
Australia remains deeply concerned by the most recent wave of violations of human rights by the regime, including arrests and harassment of members of the opposition, and union and human rights activists.
Australia calls on the Zimbabwean authorities to respect fully the human rights of the Zimbabwean people, in this time of terrible hardship.
Mr Smith’s office (02) 6277 7500
Departmental Media Liaison (02) 6261 1555