Food aid – at last

HARARE - Zimbabwe is set to benefit next year from a US$4.7 billion package from the United Nations for seven African countries facing massive humanitarian disasters. Of the US$4.7 billion, a third will be set aside for the conflict in the Darfur region in Sudan. Besides Zimbabwe and Sudan, the UN w

ill also assist Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Somalia and Uganda. Announcing the aid package, UN secretary general Kofi Annan said rich countries must assist countries in crisis. In a world of plenty, continued suffering is a terrible stain on our conscience. It is inexcusable that we do not strive, with every resource at our disposal, to eliminate suffering. Zimbabwes Labour and Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche confirmed that the country was expecting UN aid. It is just to complement our efforts but we can do it on our own with a normal rain season being predicted. We have moved from depending on countries that put conditions on aid, he said. Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe government last week signed an agreement with the World Food Programme (WFP) allowing the agency to distribute food aid to millions of Zimbabweans facing starvation. The agreement should come as a huge relief to about three million people who are facing starvation in Zimbabwe. WFP welcomes the signing of this agreement, which will certainly assist in meeting our plans to deliver food aid to hungry people across Zimbabwe,” said Kevin Farrell, WFP Country Director for Zimbabwe. “This MOU (Memorandum of Agreement) sets out the modalities for food aid deliveries and we are encouraged by the commitment to ensure procedures are formalised and followed,” Farrell added. The agreement allows the WFP to distribute food until June next year. Mugabe, who is accused by human rights groups of denying food aid to his political opponents to coerce them to support his ruling Zanu (PF) party, last year kicked out food aid groups insisting the country had harvested enough to feed itself. – ZimOnline

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