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Zimbabwe: Need To Address Humanitarian Needs

Ban Underscores Urgent Need To Address Humanitarian Needs In Zimbabwe

The United Nations and its relief partners must respond quickly to address the humanitarian needs of Zimbabweans and prevent the cholera epidemic from spreading, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today in a telephone conversation with South African President Kgalama Motlanthe.

During this morning’s conversation, they also discussed the political situation in Zimbabwe and the mediation by the South African Development Community (SADC) in the power-sharing talks between President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, who heads the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

A power-sharing deal on the formation of a new government was reached on 15 September with the help of regional leaders, but outstanding issues remain, jeopardizing the deal’s implementation.

Meanwhile, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) today pledged its continued support to Zimbabweans, with the number of suspected cholera cases in Zimbabwe having grown to nearly 13,000 and 570 deaths reported since August.

The agency heads the group of heath providers who are responding to the outbreak as well as the country’s wider health challenges.

Zimbabwe has appealed for $1.5 million each month to address the cholera problem, get health workers to return to their posts and provide medical supplies. Over $4 million worth of chemicals are also needed to ensure the safety of the country’s water supply.

Kits capable of treating 800 severe and more than 3,000 moderate cases of diarrhoea have arrived in Zimbabwe, where 9 out of its 10 provinces have been affected by the cholera outbreak, which has also spilled over into neighbouring South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) yesterday announced that it is stepping up its help for Zimbabwe’s swelling population of children in need, outlining a four-month response plan to deal with the Southern African country’s multiple crises, including a deadly cholera outbreak, the closure of many hospitals and the collapse of the education sector.

The 120-day plan yesterday in the capital Harare, and the agency warned that women and children are bearing the brunt of the humanitarian suffering engulfing Zimbabwe, where the economy is largely shattered and severe food shortages have become standard.

“Schools and hospitals are closing, while teachers, nurses and doctors are not reporting for duty,” UNICEF acting country representative Roeland Monasch said. “It is UNICEF’s top priority to ensure that Zimbabwe’s children get vital life-saving interventions at this critical time.”

ENDS

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