The Elders


Crisis in Zimbabwe

Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter and Graça Machel planned to travel to Zimbabwe in November 2008 in order to make a first-hand assessment of the humanitarian situation in the country. Following their refused entry into Zimbabwe, the Elders instead met leaders from politics, business, international organisations and civil society in Johannesburg, South Africa, many of whom travelled from Zimbabwe to see them.

In this photo, Kofi Annan and Jimmy Carter speak at the Elders' press conference on Zimbabwe in Johannesburg, 24 November 2008.

"The state is no longer able to offer basic services", said Graça Machel. "It can no longer feed, educate or care for its citizens. It is failing its people."

"The signing of the 15 September agreement raised hopes in Zimbabwe and around the world, but the failure to implement it in good faith and create a workable power sharing government is leading to despair and accelerating the crisis," said Jimmy Carter, at the press conference in Johannesburg.

"What we have learned in the past few days is shocking. It is not just the extent of Zimbabwe's humanitarian crisis, but the speed of deterioration in the past few weeks that is most worrying," said Kofi Annan. "The scale, depth and urgency of the situation are underreported."

Graça Machel speaking at the press conference on Zimbabwe.

"Regardless of the challenges in implementing the agreement, all parties should now make the welfare of the people their first priority and put an end to the unnecessary suffering of millions." Jimmy Carter.

The Elders focused the world’s attention onto Zimbabwe’s escalating humanitarian crisis and called on the country’s political leaders to put an end to the unnecessary suffering of their people.

Credit: Henry Brink | The Elders


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The Elders are independent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.

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