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Plans drawn up for possible evacuation of Swiss nationals from Zimbabwe

The Swiss embassy in Zimbabwe has prepared contingency plans to evacuate Swiss nationals (picture shows white-owned farm near Bulawayo set alight by government supporters).

Switzerland's ambassador in Zimbabwe, Jean-Marc Boillat, has prepared contingency plans to evacuate Swiss nationals. The move comes as the conflict sparked by the occupation of white-owned farms threatens to spiral out of control.

Two white farmers and several opposition activits have been killed in recent violence.

"The uneasiness is growing," says Boillat. "There is a general concern for the Swiss population in this country".

Boillat says the emergency measures should allow the embassy to contact the nearly 500 Swiss expatriates living in Zimbabwe, including several farmers, within a matter of hours. The embassy can then arrange travel plans for anyone who wants to leave the country.

However, Boillat says the Swiss community does not feel in any immediate danger.

"Swiss people are normally rather calm, so I would say they are less preoccupied than maybe other nations," says Boillat.

Tension has been increasing since government supporters in Zimbabwe began occupying white-owned farms nearly two months ago. It followed a call from the president, Robert Mugabe, for blacks to seize white-owned land.

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