Lift ban on humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe, says Oxfam
While acknowledging ongoing negotiations to resolve the political crisis in Zimbabwe, international aid agency Oxfam International is concerned about the continuing lack of attention to the deepening humanitarian crisis in the country. According to the Zimbabwe Crop and Food Security Assessment report, there are currently more than 2 million people in Zimbabwe who do not have enough to eat. This is expected to rise to 5 million people by January 2009.
The ban on civil society activity, especially humanitarian activity by the government in the run up to the elections, is seriously exacerbating the situation for poor people in the country. Coping mechanisms have stretched beyond their limits.
Charles Abani, Oxfam’s Regional Director, said: “We know that there is a growing humanitarian crisis, and we are prepared to support efforts to address this crisis, but because of the continued ban, we have had to put all our operations on hold.” There is a very real need to start supporting farmers with agricultural inputs and seeds that are in short supply for the next planting season.
Oxfam calls on the negotiating parties to put the growing humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe at the top of the agenda. Specifically, and with reference to the Memorandum of Understanding for negotiating the future in Zimbabwe, we call for the immediate and unconditional lifting of the ban on NGOs and civil society organizations to resume their work to address the rights and needs of vulnerable, unprotected and starving people in Zimbabwe.