The Elders released their report on Zimbabwe today (10 pages). The three members of "The Elders" Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter and Graça Machel carried out an assessment of the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe on 21-24 November 2008. Unable to travel into Zimbabwe itself, they held meetings over three days in South Africa. The report has been issued on the basis of those discussions. Excerpt on regional implications :
Zimbabwe’s failing economy, the humanitarian disaster and political persecution have already driven an estimated 3-4 million people to leave the country. The SADC region has largely ignored the mass exodus of economic migrants and refused to recognise that a refugee crisis is underway. The failure to acknowledge and name the refugee crisis as such means that service provision to these people is difficult, and many of those who leave risk arrest and deportation. In recent months the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has recorded an average of 10,500 Zimbabweans per month deported from South Africa and around 4,000 from Botswana. Because of the lack of services and their legally uncertain status, most of Zimbabwe’s refugees seek shelter in the poorest parts of their host societies, adding to domestic tensions. Xenophobic attacks against foreigners are not uncommon in South African townships and the recent cholera outbreak has increased hostility.
The Elders urge SADC members to publicly and urgently acknowledge the gravity of the crisis in Zimbabwe and its impact on their own countries. Further deterioration in Zimbabwe will increase the flow of refugees, pose further economic costs on the region and damage the region’s reputation. The Elders believe that it is in the interests of all SADC members that the crisis in Zimbabwe be addressed immediately.