Monday, March 2, 2009

UN urges global community to assist Zim

Herald Reporter
02 March 2009
THE United Nations inter-agency humanitarian mission that was in Zimbabwe last week has urged the international community to support and strengthen relief efforts by humanitarian organisations in the country.In a statement from the UN Headquarters in New York, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and deputy emergency relief co-ordinator Ms Catherine Bragg — who led the mission to Zimbabwe — said the most acute manifestations of the situation included the cholera outbreak.The outbreak has already claimed over 3 000 lives."Despite tremendous efforts by both the Government and the humanitarian community in Zimbabwe to contain the cholera epidemic, major challenges remain," she said.Ms Bragg said there was need for continued assistance and resources to help Zimbabweans improve national food security."We have to ensure farmers have all the agricultural inputs they need for the next planting season, which begins in September. If we do not act now, we could end up next year with a situation similar to what we have today," Ms Bragg said.According to the statement, members of the mission noted the international community’s continued generosity to the people of Zimbabwe, saying additional resources will be required in the coming months to respond to the evolving situation in Zimbabwe.They stressed the need to start planning for early recovery, noting that rehabilitation of the basic infrastructure was required."To effectively contain cholera, water and sewage systems need to be urgently repaired coupled with a public health outreach campaign that goes down to the district and ward level," the statement said.President Mugabe met the mission last week and expressed his appreciation for the support Zimbabwe has been receiving from the humanitarian community.The mission also described their meeting with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and several Cabinet ministers as positive while it received assurance of full co-operation with the UN and its partners.It, however, stressed that the welfare of the people was largely the responsibility of the Government of Zimbabwe."We trust that the inclusive Government will quickly take the necessary steps to address the fundamentals of governance that would allow stability and economic recovery," the mission added.Addressing journalists at the end of the mission last week, Ms Bragg said the UN required a total of US$500 million to assist Zimbabwe with its humanitarian needs.Other members of the mission included Daniel Lopez Acuna, World Health Organisation director of recovery and transition programmes; Robin Nandy, senior health advisor at Unicef; Andrew Colin Parker, senior water and sanitation advisor with Unicef; and Timo Pakkala, the World Food Programme deputy regional representative.

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