Zimbabwe: UN food agency seeks urgent funds to feed over 3 million people

Zimbabwe: UN food agency seeks urgent funds to feed over 3 million people

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The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) appealed today for $118 million to assist over three million Zimbabweans facing severe food shortages caused by a poor harvest and worsening economic turmoil in the southern African nation.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) appealed today for $118 million to assist over three million Zimbabweans facing severe food shortages caused by a poor harvest and worsening economic turmoil in the southern African nation.

“Hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans are already starting to run out of food and several million more will be reliant on humanitarian assistance by the end of the year,” stated WFP’s Regional Director for Southern Africa, Amir Abdulla.

WFP has nearly 140,000 tons of food already in stock or in the pipeline for Zimbabwe but still needs another 207,000 tons of cereals and other commodities – valued at $118 million – to cover its increased relief activities from now until the next main harvest in April 2008.

“WFP plans to feed more than 10 times the current number of beneficiaries over the next eight months to avert the threat of widespread hunger, but to do this we need more donations – and we need them immediately,” Mr. Abdulla said.

Without assistance, WFP notes that vulnerable families will be forced to adopt “risky survival measures,” including eating unsafe wild food, selling household assets, exchanging food for sex and crossing illegally into neighbouring South Africa.

Mr. Abdulla noted that over the past five years, WFP and its partners have helped to save the lives of millions of hungry Zimbabweans, as well as stopped them from having to resort to desperate measures such as prostitution or migration.

“With sufficient funds, WFP will be able to help millions more to cope with this latest crisis,” he added.