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US Calls for Zimbabwe to Lift Restrictions on Aid Agencies

The United States is calling on Zimbabwe to lift a ban on aid distribution by non-governmental organizations.

A U.S. State Department spokesman, Gonzalo Gallegos, said Friday that there is no reason to prevent aid from reaching Zimbabweans in need.

On Thursday, the U.S. Agency for International Development called on Zimbabwe's government to immediately and completely rescind its suspension of aid groups.

The government imposed the ban June 4, accusing aid groups of supporting opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in Zimbabwe's presidential runoff election.

President Robert Mugabe won the runoff after Tsvangirai withdrew, citing state-sponsored violence against his supporters.

The United Nations says nearly five million Zimbabweans will require food aid in the coming months. The country is suffering food shortages following years of poor harvests.

Critics blame the problems on government policies, especially a land reform program that transferred farms to blacks with little farming experience.