국제앰네스티는 지난 2일 발간된 보고서를 통해 짐바브웨 당국에 5년 전 이뤄졌던 대규모 철거작전 뒤 주민들을 수용하기 위해 만든 정착지에서 빈번하게 일어나고 있는 신생아 사망에 관해 철저히 조사할 것을 요청했다.
국제앰네스티의 새로운 보고서 “No Chance to Live, Newborn death at Hopley Settlement ”는 5개월간 총 21명의 신생아들이 사망하는 등, 정착지의 신생아 사망률이 매우 높음을 지적하고 있다.
짐바브웨에서 출산 전 의료서비스를 받기 위해서는 등록비 미화 50불이 필요하지만 많은 여성들이 이를 지불할 수 없는 실정이다. 특히 호플레이 정착지 주민의 경우 강제철거 이후 생계 수단을 잃은 가정이 많아 등록비는 내는 것이 거의 불가능 하다.
이에 따라 카라리 국장은 “정부는 산모와 아기에 대한 의료지원을 보장해 더 이상 충분히 막을 수 있는 신생아 사망을 방지해야 한다.”고 밝혔다.
국제앰네스티 미셸 카가리 아프리카국 국장은 “정부는 주민들에게 호플레이 정착지에서 더 나은 삶을 제공하겠다고 약속했으나 상황은 오히려 더 악화되었다”며 “우리가 인터뷰한 많은 여성들은 신생아의 사망이 제한적인 의료지원 때문이라고 이야기했다. 또 다른 이들은 플라스틱으로 지어진 움막에서 살기 때문에 아기들이 추위를 이기지 못하고 사망한 것”이라고 추정한다고 밝혔다.
NEWBORN DEATHS AT ZIMBABWE SETTLEMENT MUST BE INVESTIGATED
2 December 2010The Zimbabwean government should urgently investigate the deaths of newborn babies at a settlement it created to re-house people made homeless by its mass forced eviction program five years ago, Amnesty International said in a report released today. The report No Chance to Live, Newborn death at Hopley Settlement found that at least 21 newborns had died at Hopley within a five month period indicating a very high level of newborn deaths within the settlement. “When people were settled in Hopley, the government promised them a better life but things have gone from bad to worse,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Africa Director. “Many of the women we spoke to felt that their minimal access to healthcare contributed to the deaths of their babies. Others suspected that their babies died of cold because they live in plastic shacks.” “The government must ensure these women have access to maternal and newborn healthcare in order to prevent further avoidable deaths.” The government justified its 2005 mass evictions program, Operation Murambatsvina, by claiming that the communities evicted were living in deplorable conditions.
They set up a housing scheme named Operation Garikai (Better Life) to re-settle several thousand of the victims of the eviction program promising them better access to services. Hopley – located about 10 kilometres south of Harare – was one such scheme. “The victims of Operation Murambatsvina have been forgotten by the government and, five years after losing their homes and livelihoods, their situation continues to deteriorate,” said Michelle Kagari. Women in Hopley told Amnesty International that they were well aware of the importance of maternal and newborn healthcare, and many had received such care during previous pregnancies before the government moved them to Hopley. All said they wanted to give birth in a hospital or with the assistance of a trained birth attendant. Many women described how they could not afford the US$50 required to register for antenatal care. While this cost is applied to all pregnant women in Zimbabwe, Hopley residents are particularly unable to afford the costs because many lost their livelihoods during the mass forced evictions when market places and other informal businesses were destroyed. Expecting mothers at Hopley are also affected by the lack of transport when they go into labour. The nearest maternity clinic is in Glen Norah, some 8km away. Harare City Council only has three functioning ambulances which service a population of about two million. Many private ambulances and transport operators will not go into Hopley settlement for fear of crime, especially at night. On 19 February 2010, Megan (40) gave birth to twin boys prematurely at around midnight and could not get transport to the maternity clinic. The babies were delivered in her shack. Both the babies died while she was on her way to the clinic the following morning. This was her fifth pregnancy. She has four surviving children who were all born before the family was settled at Hopley by the government. Fadzai (25) went into labour on 26 February 2010 and gave birth to a baby girl who died the same day. She thinks her baby died because she could not keep it warm. “Limited access to health services is one of the causes of the high levels of newborn deaths at Hopley,” said Michelle Kagari. “Low cost interventions and basic healthcare could save young lives as well as those of their mothers.” It appears that the newborn deaths at Hopley have largely gone unnoticed by the authorities. A Harare City Council official told Amnesty International that the council and the government did not have demographic information of the population at Hopley, which they felt was necessary to plan health interventions. No public official figures exist but the Zimbabwean government estimates a national average of 29 neonatal cases per 1000 live births. Hopley has approximately 5,000 residents. “The Zimbabwean authorities have failed to monitor the health situation at Hopley. They must act immediately to combat the rate of newborn deaths revealed by Amnesty International’s investigation,” said Michelle Kagari. Amnesty International has called on the Zimbabwe government to urgently address the threats to the health and lives of newborn babies by immediately putting in place all necessary measures to ensure pregnant women and girls at Hopley settlement, and other Operation Garakai settlements, have access to maternal and newborn care.
The organization said that the government must also address as a matter of urgency the appalling living conditions which expose newborns and pregnant women and girls to risks of ill health and death. A health surveillance system to monitor the overall health situation in Operation Garikai settlements, including Hopley is also urgently needed; with a specific focus on maternal, neonatal and infant mortality and morbidity. Most of the people who now live at Hopley were forcibly moved there by the government. They had been living at Porta Farm, a settlement on the outskirts of Harare.
The government had moved people to Porta Farm following forced evictions from Harare precincts in preparation for the 1991 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Porta Farm was destroyed during Operation Murambatsvina in spite of three court orders barring the government from removing the community without adequate alternative accommodation.