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WFP Warns About Food Crisis in Zimbabwe - 2002-11-28

The World Food Program has issued an urgent warning about the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. WFP is now feeding more than two million people a month, but millions more are still in need.

The United Nations' World Food Program says levels of malnutrition in Zimbabwe are worsening, and it has insufficient resources to import and distribute enough food for all the needy.

The WFP also says the Zimbabwe government has made the situation worse by delaying accreditation of several partners who distribute food.

It says the Zimbabwe government does not have enough foreign currency to import food and play its full part in the escalating food crisis.

The government is using money from recent tobacco sales to try to import about 22,000 tons of grain a week from South Africa.

However, the consignments are being delayed by Zimbabwe's disintegrating railway system.

Many human rights organizations have accused the Zimbabwe government of distributing whatever food it does import in a partisan way, refusing to sell grain to suspected opposition supporters.

The Amani Trust, a local human rights group, has for the first time reported deaths from starvation because, it says, opposition supporters were not allowed to buy grain.

The World Food Program says the crisis is peaking as the end of the year approaches, and about six million people - half the population - are in need of food now.

The crisis has been aggravated by drought, and the fact that most commercial farmers have been chased off their land. Many of the new farmers have no experience, nor seed and fertilizer, and the once prosperous commercial farmlands are largely fallow.