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Zimbabwe's humanitarian crisis worsening, UN food agency warns

Zimbabwe's humanitarian crisis worsening, UN food agency warns

The humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe is deteriorating at a dangerously rapid pace, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today.

The agency cited increasingly alarming reports of children dropping out of school as well as rising levels of malnutrition amid growing concern that food imports by both the Government and humanitarian agencies are falling far short of the amount required to feed the Zimbabwean people in the near future.

“We are approaching the very worst period of the crisis, when 6.7 million Zimbabweans will need food aid and yet WFP does not even have the resources to meet our target of 3 million beneficiaries in November,” said WFP’s Kevin Farrell. “It is an extremely serious situation and it is only going to get worse.”

Although WFP and its partners did manage to distribute 20,000 metric tons of food to 2 million of Zimbabwe's most vulnerable people in October, much more needs to be done. As the agency struggles to access sufficient resources for the critical months ahead, it faces a shortfall of close to 200,000 tons of relief aid for Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, needs are growing; the agency plans to expand its distribution rolls from 3 million people to 5.8 million by January if it can get the necessary funds. “We will all have to work non-stop over the coming months if we are to prevent millions of people from starving in Zimbabwe,” Mr. Farrell said.

He warned that the Government, humanitarian agencies and the international community must do everything possible “to increase the flow of food into the country, otherwise the suffering that we are already seeing is only going to become more widespread and more acute.”