UN launches new Zimbabwe appeal as millions ‘facing food crisis’

The United Nations has stepped up its emergency appeal for Zimbabwe, warning that a third of the 16 million Zimbabweans, need aid and at least half of them are on the cusp of “starvation”, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).

The World Food Programme (WFP) has launched a $331m (£270m) appeal as the country battles the effects of drought, a cyclone and an economic crisis.

Speaking at the launch of the appeal, WFP executive director David Beasley said 2.5 million Zimbabweans were “in crisis emergency mode… marching towards starvation”.

Once a regional breadbasket, Zimbabwe has suffered years of turmoil. Recent harvests have been badly affected by drought and the price of food has risen sharply. Low water levels have also hit the main hydro-electric plant at Kariba, triggering rolling power cuts across the country.

“We are talking about people who truly are marching towards starvation if we are not here to help them,” he said.

“We are facing a drought unlike any that we have seen in a long time.”
Zimbabwe’s problems were exacerbated when Cyclone Idai swept through the region earlier this year.

The huge storm, which also hit parts of Malawi and Mozambique, affected 570,000 Zimbabweans and left tens of thousands of them homeless.

Last week, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said the government had been providing grain to 757,000 homes since January, in both rural and urban areas.

And on Tuesday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over from long-time ruler Robert Mugabe in November 2017, declared the drought a national disaster.

The UN was already appealing for $294m for Zimbabwe but says it now needs more funding as the impact of the drought has spread.

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