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UNICEF Zimbabwe denies targeting Dzamara family

By Tatenda Dewa | Harare Bureau |

The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in Zimbabwe has made a U-turn on an earlier statement that condemned the Dzamara family for involving children in the commemoration of Itai, a journalist turned political activist who was abducted in March 2015.

The family of abducted journalist Itai Dzamara on Friday confronted the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in Harare demanding a retraction and an apology over a controversial statement they penned criticising the participation of his children during a commemoration.
The family of abducted journalist Itai Dzamara on Friday confronted the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in Harare demanding a retraction and an apology over a controversial statement they penned criticising the participation of his children during a commemoration.

The Dzamara family, friends and relatives celebrated disappeared Itai’s birthday in the Africa Unity Square where he led a series of protests against President Robert Mugabe’s government.

UNICEF, three days later, issued a statement in which it condemned the event that had happened on a Wednesday the same week. However, two weeks after, UNICEF is claiming it was not targeting the Dzamara family event.

“The statement issued (on 13 August) emphasises the responsibility of all stakeholders to ensure that children are kept out of all political movements and actions that put them at risk. The statement does not focus on any individual or entity,” says the new statement.

The Dzamara birthday commemoration was the only high profile event where children were involved on a Wednesday as they offered anti-riot police flowers as a symbol of love.

“UNICEF in Zimbabwe deplores the use of children in the demonstrations that took place in Harare on Wednesday.

“Children are not political and should be sheltered at all times from situations that expose them to the risk of harm or violence,” said UNICEF in its 13 August statement.

The statement provoked a backlash from the Dzamara family and civil activists subsequently besieged the UNICEF offices while Itai’s brother, Patson, delivered an angry petition at the UN agency. Nehanda Radio

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