JOHANNESBURG, 7 Oct 2003 (IRIN) - There's still time to
"prevent the twin spectres of starvation and destitution" from
occurring in Zimbabwe, said the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in a plea for more
assistance from donors.
UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Zimbabwe, J. Victor Angelo, said the generous support of aid efforts in 2002/03 had saved lives.
"I would like to express my gratitude for the timely and generous support given by the donor community during 2002/03. Through this extensive assistance, the international donors funded a wide range of humanitarian interventions, ensuring that the most vulnerable Zimbabwean households had sufficient food, that malnourished children benefited from special feeding programmes and that some recovery assistance was given to small-scale farmers. Lives were saved through these significant efforts," he said in a statement on Monday.
Angelo warned, however, that "the relief needs in Zimbabwe have increased in 2003. There remains a significant food deficit, and there are important requirements in sustaining key social services and the public health system. It is again a question of survival for many families".
Following a request for assistance from the government, the UN launched a new UN Consolidated Appeal for the country in July 2003.
"This appeal also gave a very strong focus on the impact of HIV/AIDS on the most vulnerable groups, and its particular effects on the lives of women and girls. Latest indications are that almost 780,000 children, approximately 13 percent of the entire child population in the country, have already been orphaned by HIV/AIDS," Angelo noted.
He added that there were significant competing global demands for humanitarian assistance in 2003/04, and recovery and reconstruction requirements in several parts of the world would demand exceptionally high levels of donor commitment in both the short term and the longer term.
"Despite these strategic pressures, I would like to alert the international community that there is a high level of vulnerability amongst Zimbabwe's population, requiring well-targeted and prompt humanitarian interventions. For example, nationally, the prevalence of underweight-for-age is at 17 percent and stunting at 26 percent, pointing to increased impoverishment and human insecurity," Angelo said.
He added that levels of funding needed to be "increased urgently" for aid agencies "to deal with serious food insecurity and an accelerated decline in health and safe water supplies".
"Moreover, a renewed commitment by the donors is necessary to ensure that there is an investment in community-based rehabilitation programmes. These are necessary to strengthen household food production and self-reliance, and to reduce a growing dependency on external aid," Angelo explained.
There was also a need to enhance the partnership between the donors and relief agencies, to bring "more durable solutions to the humanitarian problems in Zimbabwe". However, to achieve this, it "is necessary to increase the quality of the dialogue with the government".
"I have been assured by the government that the humanitarian programme will be implemented without political interference. My validation teams have shown that assistance is reaching the beneficiaries. The teams will also keep monitoring the delivery of humanitarian aid to ensure that it conforms to internationally accepted principles and standards," Angelo stressed.
Zimbabwe's dramatic economic decline, coupled with the humanitarian crisis, has seen growing poverty stretching the survival strategies of Zimbabwean households.
"I therefore appeal to the donor governments to urgently revive their generous assistance to Zimbabwe. There is still time to prevent the twin spectres of starvation and destitution from occurring," he concluded
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