Urgent aid needed as Zimbabwes humanitarian crisis worsens – UN relief chief

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes said that an estimated 3.8 million people would be classed as food insecure between now and the end of the year. During the peak of the hunger season, between January and March 2009, nearly half of the population of 12 million is estimated to be going to require food assistance. Mr. Holmes, who is also UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, said there is a large resource gap and aid is needed now. Although several months of humanitarian service delivery were lost, there is still time to avert increased human suffering.In June, Zimbabwe suspended all field operations by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private voluntary organisations (PVOs) in the wake of a political crisis, now resolved through a power-sharing agreement.Since the ban was lifted over a month ago, NGOs and UN agencies have been re-establishing operations to provide life-saving assistance. Mr. Holmes said that current challenges include critical shortages of all basic services, including food, clean water, and health services. Critically under-funded sectors of the current UN appeal for Zimbabwe include emergency agriculture and education, while funding in health, water and sanitation also remains low. 2 October 2008The humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is deteriorating and will continue to worsen into next year, according to the top United Nations humanitarian official, who has called for urgent aid to avert increased human suffering in the Southern African nation. read more