Tag Archives: Zimbabwe

WFP cuts cereal rations for hungry Zimbabweans

By Muchena Zigomo

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 30 (Reuters) – The U.N’s World Food Programme will halve cereal rations for Zimbabweans next month because of an increase in the number of people in need of food aid, a spokesman said.

Zimbabwe is facing chronic food shortages and seven million people, or half the population, will need handouts in February and March, according to the WFP. The agency opted to cut the monthly cereal ration to 5 kg (11 lb) per person to feed more people.

“The main reason is that we are increasing the number of beneficiaries to 5.1 million in February, and this is substantially more than we had originally planned for,” Richard Lee, WFP’s spokesman for southern Africa, told Reuters.

“We simply don’t have the resources to provide a full ration to all 5.1 million people.”

He added that the amount of beans and vegetable oil in the food packages would remain the same.

Zimbabwe’s opposition decided on Friday to join a government with President Robert Mugabe next month, ending a paralysing political deadlock that has worsened the desperate economic and humanitarian crisis.

(Editing by Paul Simao and Andrew Roche)

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Southern Africa launches urgent aid for Zimbabwe


*Zimbabwe’s neighbours to launch humanitarian campaign *South Africa hopes Zimbabwe government to be formed this week *South Africa will not back calls for Mugabe to step down

By Nelson Benya

HARARE, Dec 17 (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s neighbours will launch an urgent humanitarian campaign in the hope of saving the country from economic collapse and a cholera epidemic, South African President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Wednesday.

Almost 1,000 people have died in the cholera outbreak, piling more agony on Zimbabweans already suffering runaway hyperinflation and shortages of food and fuel.

The cholera has intensified Western calls for President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980, to step down.

Regional mediation has failed to persuade the ruling ZANU-PF and opposition to implement a September power-sharing agreement, seen as the best chance of easing an economic crisis that has driven millions of Zimbabweans to neighbouring countries.

But a deadlock over ministries has blocked progress in negotiations as Zimbabwe descends further into chaos.

Motlanthe expressed hope that a Zimbabwean government will be formed this week. But the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) did not share his optimism.

“Maybe the President (Motlanthe) knows something we don’t know, but we are not aware of any plans to form a government this week. It’s certainly news to us because the oustanding issues we have outlined remain,” said spokesman Nelson Chamisa.

Motlanthe told a news conference in Pretoria that the parties have not raised the issue of Mugabe stepping aside and he should stay on under the terms of the power-sharing pact.

Motlanthe added he expected MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to accept the prime ministerial role.

“He has always committed himself, he regards himself as the prime minister-designate, therefore I think once appointed he will accept,” he said.

Mugabe and his old foe Tsvangirai should both step aside to allow a neutral administration to tackle Zimbabwe’s crisis and prepare for a new election, a thinktank has proposed.

The Brussels-based International Crisis Group described the power-sharing talks as “hopelessly deadlocked” and said no new formula based on Mugabe remaining president and Tsvangirai becoming prime minister looked workable.

“There is a possible negotiated way forward that could avoid Zimbabwe’s complete collapse,” the group said in a report on Tuesday.

“The core idea is to establish a transitional administration, run by non-partisan experts, in which neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai would have any position.”

Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in a presidential election but fell short of the necessary votes to avoid a run-off poll which the 84-year-old veteran leader won after Tsvangirai pulled out of the race citing violence.

(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: http://africa.reuters.com/)

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Zimbabwe crisis worsens amid impasse, Amnesty says

By Paul Simao

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 31 (Reuters) – Human rights abuses are going unpunished and the food crisis is worsening in Zimbabwe while President Robert Mugabe and the opposition bicker over forming a unity government, Amnesty International said on Friday.

Mugabe and the leaders of the opposition MDC agreed last month to share power, but talks have become bogged down over control of ministries. A deal is seen as critical to reversing an economic meltdown in the southern African nation.

Zimbabweans are struggling to survive amid chronic shortages of meat, milk and other basic commodities as a result of the collapse of the agricultural sector. The country is dependent on food handouts and malnutrition is on the rise.

“We are worried that human rights have not been at the centre of the negotiation process,” Simeon Mawanza, the rights group’s Zimbabwe expert, said in a press release accompanying a report on the humanitarian situation in the country.

“While the parties continue to negotiate on political details, the most vulnerable Zimbabweans are at further risk of extreme hunger. Many Zimbabweans are now only surviving by eating wild fruit.”

London-based Amnesty said no one had been held accountable for the beatings, torture and other rights violations that occurred before the June presidential election even though it said most victims it interviewed could identify their attackers.


It said the perpetrators usually were in the security forces, Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party or were pro-Mugabe war veterans. The 84-year-old Zimbabwean leader has blamed the opposition for the bloodshed that killed more than 100 people.

A March presidential election won by Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai was generally peaceful, but the June run-off was marred by widespread attacks on opposition supporters by security forces.

Tsvangirai pulled out of the second round, citing the attacks on his supporters. Mugabe won the one-candidate race, prompting an international outcry and paving the way for the start of power-sharing negotiations.

Those talks culminated in a Sept. 15 agreement that spurred hopes of a quick economic recovery.

But the economy has continued to unravel during the weeks of fruitless talks over formation of a cabinet, and there are now fears the coming harvest could be worse than last year.

Amnesty said the election-related violence had worsened the food crisis because many victims were farmers who were too badly injured to till their land during the coming rainy season.

“If we think the food situation in Zimbabwe is bad now, just wait until the end of this year when half of the population is likely to need aid,” Mawanza said. There are an estimated 13 million people in Zimbabwe.

(Editing by Peter Millership)

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MSF calls upon South African authorities to immediately stop deportation of Zimbabweans

MSF calls upon South African authorities to immediately stop deportation of Zimbabweans “Hundreds of people have been sent back into the country from which they fled, without any recognition of their right to seek asylum,” says Rachel Cohen, MSF Head of Mission in South Africa. Brussels/Johannesburg – The international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today expressed alarm at the deportation of approximately 500 Zimbabweans, including women and children, from a detention centre in Musina, at the border with Zimbabwe. South African authorities in Musina told MSF that they had increased patrols along the border during the run-off period. Zimbabwean arrested during these patrols told MSF teams that they had crossed the border over the past few days, fleeing instability and political violence in their country. MSF calls for an immediate end to deportations of Zimbabweans, as well as for proper reception facilities where Zimbabweans can receive protection and assistance. The detention centre in Musina yesterday housed about 400 men, 50 women and 15 children, nearly three times the usual number housed there. The MSF team gained access to the overcrowded centre yesterday to assess their most urgent needs. When the team returned this morning with relief materials to start their work, they found the centre completely emptied. The authorities confirmed that all Zimbabweans in the centre had been transported back across the border. “Hundreds of people have been sent back into the country from which they fled, without any recognition of their right to seek asylum,” says Rachel Cohen, MSF Head of Mission in South Africa. “Deportations happen every day in South Africa but had apparently been halted yesterday on the occasion of the electoral run-off in Zimbabwe. We are shocked to find that the authorities are resuming this unacceptable practice, in violation of international as well as South African law, which guarantee the right to seek asylum and to access the assistance they need.” MSF calls on the government of South Africa to recognise the right of Zimbabweans to flee to safety within South Africa. The authorities should provide proper places for Zimbabweans to stay where they are protected and can receive an acceptable level of assistance without further risk of deportation. “We also call upon other international bodies to move away from small-scale measures towards comprehensive protection and care,” adds Rachel Cohen. “It is essential that UN agencies with the mandate to protect and assist, such as UNHCR, provide screening for people arriving in South Africa and facilitate the recognition of refugee status for Zimbabweans.” MSF has been present in South Africa since 1999, providing comprehensive HIV and TB care and treatment in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, and Lusikisiki, in Eastern Cape Province. Since December 2007 MSF has also been working in central Johannesburg and in Musina, at the Zimbabwean border, to provide Zimbabweans seeking refuge in South Africa with access to medical care. Following the recent violence and unrest targeting foreign nationals, MSF has been providing assistance to the affected population in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Pretoria

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