The European Commission - the European Union's executive branch - has authorized $11 million in humanitarian aid for Zimbabwe.

In a statement Tuesday, the commission says the money will go to provide medicine, medical supplies, and parts to fix water treatment plants.

The statement says Zimbabwe is enduring a humanitarian crisis and a critical health situation.  

The problems include a 10-month cholera epidemic brought on by the virtual collapse of the country's health care, sanitation and water supply systems.

The European Union continues to impose financial and travel sanctions against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his closest supporters, who it accuses of human rights abuses.

The EU says the $11 million in aid will be distributed by non-governmental aid groups, the United Nations, and the International Red Cross.

The EU aid comes a day after the United Nations increased its appeal for Zimbabwe, saying the troubled nation needs nearly $720 million in urgent aid.

The U.N. had appealed for $550 million last year.  But Monday, it said only about $246 million has come in so far.

The U.N. says six million Zimbabweans have no access to clean water, and that more than half the population will need food aid this year.

The country has suffered through a decade of sharp economic decline widely blamed on President Mugabe's policies.

Mr. Mugabe entered into a unity government with the longtime opposition MDC party earlier this year.  The new government has asked for more than $8 billion to revive the broken economy and rebuild the country's rundown infrastructure.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP