BY OBEY MANAYITI
The United Nations yesterday launched a US$234 million international aid appeal to help Zimbabwe tackle a drought that has left a third of its population in need of relief over the next six months.
Visiting UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock also allocated US$10 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), saying more was required, with 5,3 million people in need of assistance following drought and prolonged economic crisis.
The under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief co-rdinator said the CERF allocation would help to rapidly provide critical food and livelihood support, education, health, and protection services for the most vulnerable people who are hardest-hit during crises.
These include children, women, the elderly, and people who are chronically ill or living with disabilities.
“But the $10 million represents only a fraction of what is needed to meet the level of need across the country,” Lowcock said.
UN ambassador Bishow Parajuli and senior government representatives launched the appeal.
According to the UN, an estimated 2,9 million people in rural areas and 1,5 million in urban areas are already severely food insecure, including one million facing emergency levels of food insecurity.
A further 900 000 people risk reaching crisis food insecurity levels if the humanitarian assistance they are receiving does not continue.
In many areas across the country, there are acute shortages of essential medicines, and rising food insecurity has also heightened the risk of gender-based violence, particularly for women and girls.
Earlier, Lowcock met President Emmerson Mnangagwa and promised to mobilise sufficient funds to alleviate the looming humanitarian disaster in the country.
Addressing journalists after meeting Mnangagwa and some of his ministers, Lowcock said he was happy with the discussion with the country’s leadership.
“I want to express, on behalf of the United Nations, our total solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe in coping with the current economic challenges and I was able to inform His Excellency that we will today (Thursday) be launching a flash appeal to the international community to provide assistance to Zimbabwe and I will make the announcement it later,” he said.
Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo said government was always doing food assessment programmes to see areas where there are gaps on food insecurity.
“As you are aware that there is the food assessment programme that is always taking place within the country and we are taking cognisant of the gaps which are going to appear in that exercise, so that we are able to ensure that no one dies of hunger,” Moyo said.