THE United Nations has expressed deep concern over Zimbabwe’s hunger situation.
In a statement the UN system in Zimbabwe said it was “deeply concerned by the severe drought caused by El Niño across the country and in southern Africa that is negatively impacting the lives and livelihoods of millions people in rural Zimbabwe and the region”.
Having previously budgeted to raise funds for food assistance for just about 1,5 million people the UN has had to scramble for more assistance as estimates of people facing starvation have since been revised upwards to nearly three million people.
The Zimbabwe government has also declared a state of emergency over the looming hunger situation due to yet another failed summer cropping season for the continent’s former bread basket.
“Informed by the 2015 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) report, a UN Response Plan was prepared and, to date, the UN agencies – with support from development partners and in cooperation with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – have reached more than 1 million affected people and generated US$76 million in funding from partners, including US/USAID, UK/DFID, EU/ECHO and the UN Central Emergency Response Fund”.
“Following the government’s declaration of a State of Disaster on 3 February 2016 and the updated ZimVAC report of recent weeks, the UN and its humanitarian partners have been further refining the joint humanitarian response plan so as to address needs in the following areas: agriculture; food; health; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); nutrition; child protection; and education,” said the world body, which has committed to continue to work with government and development partners to scale-up relief activities to reach food insecure communities.
“These are currently estimated 2,8 million people. In reaching the affected populations, coordination of humanitarian efforts undertaken by the Government and the international humanitarian community will be critical so as to optimise resources and avoid duplication and/or gaps,” the UN noted.
The UN’s humanitarian response in Zimbabwe is being guided by four humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence as the organisation works closely with government and its designated institutions to provide humanitarian assistance to vulnerable people with the greatest needs, regardless of their political or other affiliations and beliefs, with full transparency and accountability.
This pledge comes in the wake of increased reports of international relief agencies food aid distribution being politicised.
“The UN agencies and their humanitarian partners undertaking the emergency drought response have been adhering to these humanitarian principles and have put in place mechanisms to ensure that these principles are respected. Regardless of whether humanitarian assistance is delivered directly or through implementing partners, all humanitarian agencies employ a robust monitoring system that ensures that aid is distributed only to the intended beneficiaries,” the UN pointed out.
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