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Crisis Group Urges Donors Adopt "Humanitarian-Plus" Approach To Zimbabwe

The International Crisis Group urged international donors in a report issued Monday to adopt what the think tank calls a “humanitarian-plus” approach to assisting Zimbabwe, extending funding from the humanitarian domain to revive education, health and water systems, support a basic basic civil service and rebuild critical infrastructure.

The International Crisis Group noted “considerable international skepticism” as to the chances of success of the national unity government in place in Harare since February, noting that President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party remain in a position to block initiatives by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change.

But it saw a “more constructive political dynamic” developing, particularly in parliament, where the MDC holds a majority and cooperation may be possible across the aisle.

The ICG warned that if the international community remains too long in “wait-and-see” mode this could lead to the failure of the unity government, allowing Mr. Mugabe and the military establishment to dig in, setting back the tentative democratic transition.

The United States and Britain, among others, have said they will not expand aid to Harare beyond humanitarian relief to reconstruction assistance without clear evidence of reform in Zimbabwe on human rights, the rule of law and governance in particular.

The report, entitled "Engaging the Inclusive Government," said it would be "premature" to lift sanctions targeting President Mugabe and his closest supporters. But it said that the United States, Britain, other Western countries and the Southern African region should work with the MDC and moderates in ZANU-PF "to help make the reform process irreversible."

Reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with International Crisis Group Deputy President Donald Steinberg, who said the ICG is recommending that donors provide "a dividend" to Zimbabweans and "deliver the message that there is hope."

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