Friends in Zimbabwe tell of violence in troubled times

Violence arising from fuel cost increases in January has greatly affected Friends in Zimbabwe

Friends in Zimbabwe have reported that they have been greatly affected by the violence arising from fuel increases last month. Several people were killed during protests in the cities of Harare and Bulawayo after the government more than doubled the price of fuel overnight.

Lee Taylor, clerk to Friends of Hlekweni, a UK-based charity, told the Friend: ‘Most Friends in Bulawayo live in the townships or rural settlements, so getting to Meeting takes considerable time and money: walking often several kilometres, then taking kombis (taxis). Fares have increased severalfold – well beyond the means of most. Friends report that their local shops were looted and trashed, meaning that getting food supplies requires expensive journeys into Bulawayo centre. Surviving… is on a knife edge.’

Hundreds of activists and opposition officials went into hiding after a brutal government crackdown following the riots. There have been reports of arrests, beatings, rapes and abductions committed by police and the military.

Fourteen Friends attended Bulawayo Meeting on 3 February and shared stories about frightening experiences, as well as discussing the distribution of the Southern Africa Yearly Meeting food support and what Quakers have been doing to keep faithful.

The attenders also welcomed the launch of peace clubs in five secondary schools.

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