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29 January 2009

More than half of Zimbabwe's population, suffering under a severe economic and political crisis, will need food aid in February and March, the World Food Programme said on Thursday. The WFP said in a statement that it aims to assist 5.1 million people in February while a group of U.S.-sponsored aid organisations plans to assist 1.8 million more people in the southern African country. "The overall total for people in need of assistance in February and March is around 7 million," the WFP said. [...] Regional leaders decided at a summit on Tuesday that a unity government should be formed next month. Fears of the cholera spreading in Zimbabwe have stepped up pressure on rival parties to end the political uncertainty. [...] Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said he agreed to form a government with President Robert Mugabe although his Movement for Democratic Change voiced disappointment with the deal reached at the summit. MDC officials are expected to meet on Friday to discuss how to proceed.


29 January 2009

Zimbabwe's humanitarian disaster is far worse than anticipated with only six percent of the population formally employed and more than half in need of emergency food aid, a UN report said Thursday. Fewer than half a million Zimbabweans have jobs, while nearly seven million need emergency aid, UN agencies said in the latest stark illustration of the once-vibrant economy's collapse. The new grim estimate by the World Food Programme means that more than half of Zimbabwe's 12 million people do not have enough to eat, WFP regional spokesman Richard Lee told AFP. [...] "The economic situation has worsened more dramatically than we had anticipated," Lee said. The crisis has deteriorated so quickly that the agency is being forced to halve the cereal rations given to hungry Zimbabweans so that all the people in need can receive aid, he added. The WFP now plans to feed 5.1 million people, while other agencies will feed an additional 1.8 million people, Lee said.


29 January 2009

More than half of Zimbabwe's population will need food aid in February and March, the World Food Programme has said. The WFP said in a statement that it aims to assist 5.1 million people in February while a group of aid organisations plans to assist 1.8 million more in the southern African country. "The overall total for people in need of assistance in February and March is around 7 million," the WFP said.


29 January 2009

Zimbabwe's government admitted defeat Thursday in a fight against dizzying inflation, allowing business to be done in U.S. dollars and bank notes of neighboring countries. Zimbabwe has the world's highest official inflation, with its currency now printed in the trillions of dollars. This month, the central bank introduced a new 100 trillion Zimbabwe dollar note. The announcement by acting Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa acknowledged the black market practices that have been a reality for months because of Zimbabwe's economic meltdown. [...] Zimbabwe has been nearly paralyzed by the crisis precipitated by disputed presidential elections last year. Politicians agreed to a coalition government in September but for months have been unable to agree how to share Cabinet posts. The impasse has stranded Zimbabweans in a prolonged economic crisis, with hospitals, schools and sanitation infrastructure left to collapse. The U.N. food program said Thursday that 7 million Zimbabweans -- 80 percent of the population by some estimates -- need food aid.


26 January 2009

After southern African leaders held marathon talks on the Zimbabwe crisis that ended early Tuesday morning, the president of South Africa announced that Zimbabwe’s opposition had agreed to join a government with President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. But an opposition spokesman said there was no such agreement. [...] Zimbabwe has plunged deeper into crisis amid massive unemployment and crippling hyperinflation, with half the population dependent on food aid.


23 January 2009

The U.N's World Food Programme needs to secure food aid for about 6.5 million people in southern Africa by April, the bulk of them in Zimbabwe where the humanitarian situation has worsened, a WFP official said on Friday. Zimbabwe alone has about 5.5 million people needing food aid and is also battling a cholera epidemic that has killed nearly 2,500 people in Africa's worst outbreak in almost a decade. The early part of the year is usually the peak hunger season in southern Africa, falling just before the start of the harvest season in April. Poor crops, dwindling food supplies and a shortfall in funding have made the situation worse, WFP said. WFP's southern Africa spokesman Richard Lee said the agency would target people living with HIV/AIDS, orphans and children in school feeding programmes among others. "January, February, March every year is the hungriest time of the year in southern Africa because our main annual harvest ... starts coming in around April," Lee said. "So these three months are always the hardest because there are so many very poor, very vulnerable people in this region, and this is always the period when the most people struggle to find food for themselves and for their families.


21 January 2009

Zimbabwe faces another huge food deficit in 2009 due to continued falls in farm production, mounting political uncertainty and economic instability, a report by a farmers' union said on Wednesday. [...] Donor agencies say more than 5 million Zimbabweans, almost half the population, currently rely on food handouts and expect the number to rise following another poor agricultural season. The United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) says its $140 million emergency food aid appeal for Zimbabwe has come up $65 million short.


21 January 2009

Activists launched a hunger strike Wednesday to demand faster political change in Zimbabwe and urge African leaders to isolate the country's president, Robert Mugabe, who is accused of overseeing its political and economic collapse. The South African and Zimbabwean activists also hope thousands in the region will join them in a series of fasts over the next three months. Mugabe and opposition factions ended 12 hours of talks Tuesday with no progress on a power-sharing deal signed last year. [...] The political standoff has kept Zimbabwe's leaders from addressing their country's economic collapse, which has led to a cholera epidemic and left millions of Zimbabweans depending on international food aid.


20 January 2009

Power-sharing talks in Zimbabwe appeared close to final collapse last night as the two sides remained "miles apart" on details of a unity government. After nine months without a legal government, the shattered country now faces further political uncertainty to add to a cholera epidemic, famine and economic meltdown. [...] Political deadlock has prevented international donors from putting together a rescue package. The World Food Programme says there are shortfalls in January's feeding programme.


20 January 2009

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai have failed in their latest attempt to form a unity government. After 12 hours of talks, Mr Tsvangirai said it was "probably the darkest day of our lives" for his party. [...] Mr Mugabe said he intended talks with the MDC to continue ahead of a regional summit on Zimbabwe's crisis next week. [...] The political deadlock has exacerbated the problems facing Zimbabweans, from a cholera epidemic and an economic meltdown to food shortages and the collapse of basic services such as health and education.