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U.S. Health Workers Arrested in Zimbabwe

U.S. Health Workers Arrested in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean police have arrested five U.S. health workers as well as a Zimbabwean doctor, according to a legal representative for the aid workers, and were charged with operating a clinic without a license in the capital city of Harare.

"The two charges are that they were practicing without a permit and distributing drugs without a pharmaceutical licence," attorney Jonathan Samukange told Agence France-Press. "Five of them are American nationals - four are doctors and one is an administrator - and the sixth person is a Zimbabwean doctor."

According to Samukange, the six were operating a clinic in Harare and another at an orphanage in the northeastern town of Mtoko. "They come here to help; they are volunteers," he says.

The health workers, who were arrested September 10, are being held at Harare's central prison and were expected to appear in court later the next day.

Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper reports that the six belong to an international church group that helps care for HIV and AIDS patients. The paper quoted a police spokesman as saying only two of the Americans were doctors.

Zimbabwe's public-health sector is still recovering from the country's decade-long political and economic crisis, which saw most hospitals and clinics close.

Public-=health facilities have begun reopening and restocking since the formation of a power-sharing government between President Robert Mugabe and former opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in February 2009.

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