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Zimbabwe Bans Food Aid Charities

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Zimbabwe Bans Food Aid Charities

Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg)

October 18, 2002

Posted to the web October 17, 2002

Andrew Meldrum


The Zimbabwe government has banned Oxfam and Save the Children from distributing urgently needed food aid, United Nations officials confirmed this week.

Despite reports that people are dying of starvation, President Robert Mugabe's government has refused to allow the two charities to deliver food supplied by the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

The government also told Save the Children to stop distributing its own food to people in the Binga district of western Zimbabwe. Hospital officials in Binga have confirmed that 29 people have died in recent months through malnutrition.

"This is political obstruction of desperately needed food aid at a crucial point. If people do not get food now, many will die," said Tony Hall, the United States representative to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, after a three-day tour of Zimbabwe.

"Government officials confirmed they will not allow those NGOs to distribute food aid for political reasons, because the government views them as loyal to the opposition party. I said that is unacceptable. They are major international organisations with fine reputations for non-partisan activity."

Hall also said that he had "credible reports" that the Mugabe regime was "using state-owned food as a political weapon to punish communities suspected of supporting the opposition. I heard it over and over again, particularly about the Binga area."

Binga, on Lake Kariba, is one of Zimbabwe's poorest areas and it has voted consistently for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Last month it was the only rural area won by the party in local council elections.

The WFP has asked the government to reconsider its ban.

"By December, we estimate that 6,7-million Zimbabweans will be in need of food aid, but so far we only have food for 3,9-million," said a UN official.

The European Union has promised $31-million for the WFP's food relief effort in Zimbabwe, bringing pledges up to 37% of what is needed.

"Food is coming in but it is not coming in fast enough," said Hall, who monitors food distribution efforts all over the world. "Within two months many more people will be hungry. We are looking at the possibility of major famine, major death."

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Mugabe is a fuckin dictator gone completely stark raving mad, who's a hundred times worse than Saddam! If he had any chemical weapons, his country would be a desolate waste!

He's like a simple-minded child, blaming everything on Britain and the whites. Yea, sure, the famine is Britain's fault - as he's kicking out experienced farmers and giving their land to his henchmen who know as much about farming as I do!

I've heard that he has something akin to concentration camps where political dissidents are tortured.

He wants Africa for the Africans...well, what the fuck do you call ppl born in Zimbabwe who're not black?!?!

I grew up in Botswana, so I feel strongly about this shit!

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