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Zimbabwe's Humanitarian Crisis Deepens - 2003-01-25

The humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe is deepening, according to James Morris, head of the United Nations World Food Program.

Journalists on Saturday saw the first urban feeding programs in Harare.

The U.N. World Food Program, WFP, is now providing food for children in some high-density urban areas, in what has been described as the worst humanitarian crisis in the country's history.

Mr. Morris's visit prompted the Zimbabwe government to allow more than two dozen foreign reporters into the country, although permits were denied to British and Australian journalists.

Mr. Morris said he had a good meeting with President Robert Mugabe and ministers.

He said the strains on the World Food Program were growing, especially in Africa, with many millions of people in dire need.

Mr. Morris said that, until recently, Zimbabwe had been self-sufficient in food, and had been the breadbasket for the region.

He said the loss of productive commercial farmers, evicted from their land, was a tragedy, not only for Zimbabwe, but also for the world.

More than 90 percent of Zimbabwe's white commercial farmers have been evicted from their land in the last three years, and their farms are now mostly fallow.

The United Nations also said Saturday that Zimbabwe had nearly 800,000 children orphaned by HIV-AIDS.