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UN:  Zimbabwe Experiencing Worst Ever Food Crisis

The U.N. World Food Program says that nearly half the population of Zimbabwe will need food aid by early next year. Peta Thornycroft reports that WFP says two million people in Zimbabwe need aid immediately.

The World Food Program says it needs $140 million to cover mass emergency feeding for millions of Zimbabweans before the harvest next April.

The U.N. agency warned that without additional contributions it will run out of stocks in January, "at the very peak of the crisis."

A statement from WFP regional director Mustapha Darboe said, "millions of Zimbabweans have run out of food or are surviving on just one meal a day, and the crisis is going to get much worse in the coming months."

Zimbabwe was self sufficient in food until President Robert Mugabe started evicting white commercial farmers in 2000 and gave their land to members of his ZANU-PF party who had few farming skills.

Every year since then food production has decreased and the economy has shrunk, producing record-breaking inflation of more than 300 million percent, a worthless currency, and the lowest life expectancy in the world.

The World Food Program says 28 percent of children under five in Zimbabwe are now malnourished and 45 percent of the population will depend on emergency food aid early next year.

The United States is by far the biggest donor and has given $108 million this year.

Veteran human rights campaigner, Paul Themba Nyathi says WFP statistics appear too low for southern Zimbabwe. He said he has never seen such a food deficit before. He said every person he sees in rural areas in the south is starving.

Another human rights activist said this food crisis was not only the worst ever, but was more complicated than before because urban shops had no essential food items available for sale.

Meanwhile, the bad news in Zimbabwe compounded when Prime Minister Designate Morgan Tsvangirai announced he had deadlocked with Mr. Mugabe over allocation of Cabinet positions under the power-sharing agreement signed on September 15.

He called for former South African president Thabo Mbeki, appointed by the Southern African Development Community last year to mediate the Zimbabwe political and humanitarian crisis to return to Harare to help unblock the negotiations.