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UN Chief Ban Urges Harare To Lift Prohibition On NGO Food Distributions

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has added his voice to those calling for Harare to rescind a ban on the distribution of food by non-governmental organizations.

Ban issued a statement late Thursday saying the Zimbabwean government must lift the ban to avoid a “catastrophic humanitarian crisis.”

He said U.N. agencies are reaching around 280,000 of 1.5 million who need food assistance.

U.N. World Food Program Southern Africa Spokesman Richard Lee told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that talks with the government about resuming distribution have not led to the NGO distribution ban being rescinded.

The National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations said its members are anxious to resume operations.

But NANGO spokesman Fambai Ngirande said there are no signs that the government will reverse itself nor any indication it will release the results of an investigation into supposed political activity by NGOs - cited in June as the reason for the ban.

In the Midlands province capital of Gweru, meanwhile, maize meal is in such short supply that residents are sleeping in queues outside milling stations waiting for a chance to buy it.

Correspondent Taurai Shava of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported.

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