Cholera

01 June 2009

UN seeks Zim bail-out

The United Nations Monday launched a 718 million-dollar (R5 715 2800) appeal to ease Zimbabwe's health, food and education crises.

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The United Nations Monday launched a 718 million-dollar (R5 715 2800) appeal to ease Zimbabwe's health, food and education crises.

Appealing for the cash injection on behalf of the UN's various development agencies, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Zimbabwe, Agostino Zacarias, warned Zimbabwe faced another devastating cholera outbreak if basic infrastructure was not improved.

The current cholera outbreak, which began in a township outside Harare last August, has killed nearly 4,300 people so far and infected over 100,000 people.

Cholera still a major concern
While the rate of new infections has slowed dramatically in recent weeks following massive intervention by aid agencies, the underlying causes of the outbreak still remain.

"Unless the water and sewerage infrastructure is addressed the next outbreak from the next rainy season will affect more than 125,000 people," Zacarias said.

Around 6 million people, over half the population estimated at around 10 million, have limited or no access to safe drinking water, according to UN figures.

Money donated to the UN appeal would also be used to restock clinics and hospitals with drugs, rebuild or upgrade dilapidated schools and feed the 7.1 million Zimbabweans who rely on food aid.

Political situation unsteady
While appealing for aid from donors who have been reluctant to plough money into Zimbabwe until the new unity government led by President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai makes a clean break with the repression of the past, the UN has also expressed concern about the political situation.

Politicians, journalists, lawyers and activists who are critical of Mugabe and/or his Zanu-PF party continue to be harassed by police and detained, usually on charges of conspiring against the state.

In a report to diplomats, the UN Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that fresh elections, due within the next year and a half, could result in "renewed violence and human rights abuses." The government accused OCHA of a "lack of good faith" for the remarks. -(Sapa, June 2009).

 

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