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Swedish Organization Urges Food Assistance Monitoring In Zimbabwe

The Swedish Cooperative Center, a nongovernmental organization, has urged the European Union and the United Nations World Food Program to set up an observer force to monitor food aid distribution in Zimbabwe to prevent its politicization.

The NGO recently published a report on alleged political bias in the distribution of food aid in Zimbabwe. Entitled "Be Loyal - Or Starve," the report was based on interviews with 40 rural families who said their food stocks would not last through year's end.

Swedish Cooperative Center Director Anna Tiblin told a Swedish newspaper that the political manipulation of food aid in Zimbabwe makes monitoring necessary.

Clement Moyo, a member of the Swedish group's board, told reporter Chris Gande of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that such an observer force could make a big difference, particularly with local, general and presidential elections coming up in March 2007.

Elsewhere, the plight of Zimbabweans fleeing their country has prompted the group Refugees International to send teams to neighboring Botswana, South Africa and Zambia to assess the humanitarian situation resulting from the exodus.

Officials of the Washington-based organization said the team would launch its mission - to see how the countries are dealing with the crisis - in South Africa on Thursday.

Forced migration expert Mlamuli Nkomo of South Africa's Witwatersrand University told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that Zimbabwe’s refugee crisis has captured world attention despite South Africa’s refusal to acknowledge the crisis.

Nkomo said Refugees International's mission could be complicated by the absence of refugee camps for Zimbabweans in all three neighboring countries.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...