UK pledges 15m humanitarian support for Zimbabwe

douglas_alexander.jpgInternational Development Secretary Douglas Alexander
JOHANNESBURG - Britain has pledged an immediate 15 million humanitarian aid package for Zimbabwe's unity government, International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander announced on T

Alexander said the humanitarian aid would mean increased support for
the country’s health system, greater access to clean water and more
support for the southern African country’s struggling farmers.

"The UK remains committed to providing humanitarian support, which is
why I am announcing 15 million in additional assistance to ensure that
people have food to eat, and access to life-saving health services,"
said Alexander.

Once a model African economy Zimbabwe has suffered a severe economic
crisis that is marked by record unemployment, deepening poverty and
outbreak of killer diseases, while the country has avoided mass
starvation only because relief agencies were quick to chip in with food

Critics blame the crisis on misrule by President Robert Mugabe who has
presided over the southern African nation since its 1980 independence
from Britain.

Mugabe denies ruining Zimbabwe and instead blames his country’s
problems on economic sabotage and sanctions by Westerns governments
opposed to his rule.

A power-sharing government formed last February by Mugabe and Prime
Minister Morgan at the instigation of the Southern African Development

(SADC) has appealed for aid amounting to US$10 billion to help
kick-start the economy whose industries have been operating at less
than 10 percent over the past years.

The package from former colonial power Britain will help address a
number of urgent priorities identified by the unity government and
builds on existing UK support, which amounted to 49m last year.

"The welfare of the people of Zimbabwe remains a major concern, with
the humanitarian situation continuing to cause great hardship for

Alexander said.

"The creation of a more inclusive government represents a real
opportunity for much-needed change. We welcome efforts by the new
government to deliver economic, social and political reform. Credible
progress will attract increasing support from donors and other partners
to tackle the root causes of Zimbabwe’s problems."

According to Alexander the UK assistance which is channelled and used
alongside other international donors, will support the new government’s
Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme (STERP) which highlights
priorities in terms of improving food security, tackling disease and
strengthening health systems, addressing water and sanitation problems
and improving capacity to provide basic services to the people of

"This package is aimed at supporting these government priorities but no
UK money will pass through government of Zimbabwe systems or through
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe," Alexander said.

Harare has undertaken to end the country’s international isolation and
repair ties with Western countries including the European Union (EU),
the Commonwealth grouping of former British colonies, International
Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank for possible resumption of
financial support.

"The UK provided 49m towards humanitarian and other essential support
in 2008/09. We expect to provide a similar amount in 2009/10, although
this amount may be revised upwards as the new government of Zimbabwe
demonstrates its commitment to democratic governance, the rule of law
and sound economic reform," Alexander said.

Britain and other Western nations have said they want Harare to
implement comprehensive political and economic reforms as well as
respect for human rights and the rule of law before they can provide
support as well as lift targeted sanctions against Mugabe and top
officials of his ZANU PF party. – ZimOnline

Post published in: Economy

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