Children are dying

Aid agency warns of Zim disaster
Children in Zimbabwe are dying at an alarming rate because of chronic malnutrition, says Tear Fund, a British evangelical aid agency.
The agency said there was a sharp rise in hunger-related diseases, children were dropping out of school and families

were resorting to desperate measures such as surviving on wild fruit to cope with shortages affecting a quarter of the crisis-torn southern African country’s population.
Foreign aid agencies are unable to mobilise enough stocks to feed the millions of people requiring help in the wake of the Mugabe regime’s deliberate policy of starving the populace into submission in order to cling to power.
“People are dying. It’s the very young, the very old, and those with Aids who are the most vulnerable,” said Peter Grant, Tear Fund’s international director.
“We heard recently of a church leader who had to bury a grandmother and a baby from the same family over the same weekend. As the year goes on with the continuing food shortages, we can expect the situation to get worse, and more people to die.”
Grant did not mention deaths from starvation but said levels of chronic malnutrition were worsening and cases were increasing of hunger-related diseases such as pellagra, a chronic dietary deficiency that leads to diarrhoea and bowel infections, skin eruptions and mental disorders.
Grant spoke as British Prime Minister Gordon Brown described the situation in Zimbabwe as “appalling and tragic,” accusing Mugabe of abusing his own people.
Brown urged the deployment of a United Nations humanitarian mission and promised support for the economic reconstruction of Zimbabwe once Mugabe was gone.
Brown said Britain, Zimbabwe ‘s second biggest donor, would provide an additional £8 million, to be delivered through the World Food Programme soon.
Unemployment is over 80 percent and those who can find casual work often do so for small amounts of food. Others search around for vegetables to supplement meagre amounts of maize, getting by on one inadequate meal a day.
Because of the lack of food over the last five years many of Zimbabwe ‘s children suffer from chronic malnutrition and an increasing number are too sick to go to school, the Tear Fund report said.
The charity said Zimbabwe ‘s state-run Grain Marketing Board (GMB), which
has a monopoly on distributing food countrywide, has a limited capacity to
import enough cereal due to an acute foreign exchange shortage.
Tear Fund is currently funding feeding programmes for some 9,500 orphans and vulnerable children.
“Working through churches and church-based agencies this is relieving some of the immediate suffering – providing essential, but very limited, assistance. Many more need help,” Grant said. “It is an extremely serious situation and it is only going to get worse.”
Tear Fund said it was facing a food shortfall between now and March 2008, threatening its ability to reach all the needy.

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