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Zimbabwe NGOs Say They'll Ignore Harare Ban On Humanitarian Aid

Leaders of some 65 Zimbabwean non-governmental organizations agreed Tuesday to brush off a government order barring them from providing humanitarian assistance, resolving to proceed with caution while providing food and other aid.

Spokesman Fambai Ngirande of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations said the NGOs concluded that they cannot halt their efforts to assist the hungry, the homeless and the sick given the scope of the humanitarian crisis.

The NGOs also resolved to call upon international organizations such as the United Nations, the African Union and the Southern African Development Community to bring pressure on Harare to reverse its order to such groups to halt "field operations."

Labor and Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche last week issued a circular barring such activities, sparking international outrage. The government has accused NGOs of carrying out their humanitarian missions on behalf of the political opposition.

Ngirande said that contrary to a recent report in the state-run Herald newspaper that the registration of NGOs would be revoked, no NGO has received such an order.

Ngirande told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that in the meantime NGOs have agreed not to submit applications for re-registration.

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