Sharp rise in number of Mozambicans taking refuge in Zimbabwe

Harare - At least 2 600 people have fled unrest in Mozambique and are now living in makeshift camps in Chipinge district of south-eastern Zimbabwe where food is running short, a newspaper reports.

The latest figure is a sharp increase on the early August tally of 712 Mozambicans who are reported to have fled into Zimbabwe in recent months to escape alleged attacks by opposition Renamo fighters.

According to the Manica Post newspaper, conditions are often grim for those arriving in Chipinge, with water and food shortages at a camp in Mutoki Village. There are apparently no toilets at this camp.

Some of the villagers have brought their cattle with them but are desperately trying to sell them off to raise funds, the report says.

One of those living in the camp, Zacharia Mhlanga, 27, told the Manica Post that he'd last seen food donations in June.

"We used to cross back and collect food supplies but the situation is tense and we can't risk going back. Our food stocks are running dry and we had reports that our homes were burnt down by the bandits," the Manica Post quoted Mhlanga as saying.

Renamo refused to accept the results of elections two years ago and is being blamed for attacks on homes, officials and major highways in central and northern Mozambique.

In a recent report carried by Mozambican news agency AIM, a group of men who said they were members of Renamo raided homes, a hospital and official buildings in the Murrupula district of Nampula province in the last week of August. 

Villagers were ordered to flee into the bush.

Renamo waged a 16-year war in Mozambique. It ended in 1992.

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