Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-04-26-Speech-4-164"
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"Madam President, if a specific country is often mentioned in Parliament it is a bad sign, as it means that the human rights situation in that country must be serious. We are afraid that, in the foreseeable future, Zimbabwe was, is and will remain precisely such a country. The paradox lies in the fact that we are celebrating the 27th anniversary of this country’s independence. Unfortunately, this independence does not involve freedom. For example, one and a half months ago, the opposition was brutally crushed. Two people were killed and 300 were arrested. This is the political side of the situation, which we frequently most like to discuss in Parliament. However, there is also an economic side to the problem which is perhaps even more serious. In Zimbabwe, nearly 4.5 million people are malnourished, one third of whom have been helped by the World Food Programme, and have received food as part of that programme. This is a country where the average life expectancy is 35.5 years. As the previous speaker mentioned, Zimbabwe is one of the world record holders (in negative terms) in this respect. One fifth of its population is infected with HIV, and there 3 200 new cases every week. Zimbabwe has the highest rate of orphans in the world. The unemployment rate in this country stands at 80%! Eighty per cent of the population also live below the poverty line! Every month, a few thousand people flee the country. Over 30% of its citizens have already emigrated to neighbouring countries. Zimbabwe is the only African country in which the economy is in decline. During the last decade, economic turnover in this country fell by 40%, and this year it fell by almost another 6%. Last year, the average rate of inflation rose to 2 200%. This year, it will no doubt exceed 5 000%! Since 1998, agricultural production has fallen by four fifths! Zimbabwe's two main industries, namely tobacco and gold mining are teetering on the brink of collapse. These are all just statistics and, tragic and telling though they may be, I am afraid that dry figures, percentages and numbers may obscure the individual tragedies faced by millions of people. Zimbabwe may be far away, but let us remember the words of Ernest Hemingway: ‘Do not ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.’ Zimbabwe is a country which has fallen into a ‘black hole’. It is disappearing before our eyes, it is ceasing to exist economically and socially, and the only sign of a functioning government is political repression. We cannot remain silent. We cannot pretend that sympathy, without any political decisions, will be enough. That is why we need this debate; that is why we need this resolution. We need a joint resolution, a resolution that is above political divisions."@en1
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