The International Red Cross Federation said Tuesday that it might have to suspend its effort against the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe unless it gets an infusion of donor funding.
The head of the relief agency's Africa operations, John Roche, said the Red Cross has gotten less than half the US$9 million it needs. Wire reports quoted Roche as saying operations will “cease in four weeks" unless international donors come up with more money.
At the same time, however, the United Nations announced the allocation of US$11 million in additional funds to Zimbabwe to boost its humanitarian response there. The funds are being provided under the latest round of the Central Emergency Response Fund, which on Jan. 30 allocated some US$7.8 million to urgently roll out anti-cholera programs.
Figures released by the World Health Organization, meanwhile, showed the death toll rising to 3,467 through Monday from a cumulative total of nearly 71,000 cases in the past six months. The report said 67 more deaths were reported on Monday alone.
Executive Director Itayi Rusike of the Community Working Group on Health told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the Red Cross warning comes as no surprise as the epidemic has taken longer than expected to be brought under control – and experts say the disease continues to spread and take lives throughout Zimbabwe.