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  • Christine Chumbler
    UN plans Zimbabwe food aid The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has said it is planning a large emergency food aid operation for Zimbabwe - a country
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 9, 2001
      UN plans Zimbabwe food
      aid

      The United Nations World Food Programme
      (WFP) has said it is planning a large emergency
      food aid operation for Zimbabwe - a country
      that traditionally produces a food surplus.

      The organisation said one of its teams had just
      visited the country and found that more than
      half a million people were facing acute hunger.

      Many Zimbabweans
      already survive on just
      one meal a day, and
      their plight is
      worsening, the
      organisation said.

      The World Food
      Programme made it
      clear it was responding to a request from the
      authorities in Harare, and said it would begin
      distributing food relief next month.

      Emergency

      "What we're seeing
      right now is a
      developing complex
      emergency, a variety
      of serious problems
      which when added up,
      gravely threaten the
      lives of hundreds of
      thousands of people,"
      said Judith Lewis, WFP
      regional director for
      eastern and southern
      Africa.

      The WFP said poor rains - preceded by flooding
      - have contributed to Zimbabwe's severe
      economic problems.

      But it also highlighted the disruption caused to
      commercial agriculture by the violent
      occupations of white-owned farms, a
      development encouraged by President Robert
      Mugabe's government.

      No surpluses

      The WFP says rural people in the south, west
      and extreme north of Zimbabwe have been
      hardest hit - and that normally they are given
      surpluses from other parts of the country.

      But now the surpluses have dried up, and
      Zimbabwe lacks the foreign exchange to buy
      food from outside.

      Industry officials said Zimbabwe needed to
      import at least 600,000 tonnes of maize to
      meet domestic demand. The government has
      acknowledged a need to import 100,000
      tonnes.

      In October, Zimbabwe already faced serious
      food shortages due to price controls imposed
      by the government in a bid to control runaway
      inflation.
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