zim launches aid appeal

HARARE - Aid agencies, led by the United Nations, yesterday launched an appeal for R2,836million to meet Zimbabwe's humanitarian needs amid signs that the crisis facing the country is easing under its unity government.

HARARE - Aid agencies, led by the United Nations, yesterday launched an appeal for R2,836million to meet Zimbabwe's humanitarian needs amid signs that the crisis facing the country is easing under its unity government.

Zimbabwe's power-sharing government, formed by President Robert Mugabe and his rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in February, has presided over improving social conditions, but aid agencies say more needs to be done.

More than 70 aid organisations, including UN agencies, are requesting the money for food security and to improve health, water and sanitation.

UN assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs Catherine Bragg, who presided over the launch ceremony in Harare, noted an improvement in Zimbabwe's social conditions under the unity government.

"Zimbabwe is experiencing a gradual shift from humanitarian crisis to recovery after political changes that positively affected socio-economic conditions," she said.

"But despite improvements in food security the country still faces a national cereal deficit and an estimated 1,9million will need food assistance at the peak of the hunger season - between January and March."

Zimbabwe's humanitarian crisis peaked last year when a cholera outbreak, blamed on collapsing health, water and sanitation systems, killed more than 4000 people in nearly 100000 cases. About seven million people needed food aid in 2008.

Donors managed to provide 64percent of the 2009 appeal of R5,375million. - Reuters

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