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No Crisis, No Appeal, Says Harare’s U.N. Ambassador

While President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is expected to meet with United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to discuss humanitarian aid for those displaced by the country's May-July urban “cleanup” operation, Harare’s ambassador to the U.N. has stated that the government will not itself issue an appeal for such aid.

Not publicly appealing for assistance has become a point of pride for the Zimbabwean government, which since this spring has rejected proposals by World Food Program officials that Harare formally request food aid to meet severe supply shortfalls.

More recently, Mr. Mugabe’s government has objected to the language in a proposed “flash” appeal to donor nations for $30 million to help Zimbabwe’s displaced.

Spokeswoman Christine Knutson of the U.N. Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Office said consultations continue with the Harare government on the “flash” appeal. Aid chief chief Jan Egeland last month publicly criticized the Zimbabwean government for not moving faster to issue the appeal, prompting new talks.

But Zimbabwean Ambassador to the U.N. Boniface Chidyausiku told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Harare does not see the humanitarian crisis which U.N. officials perceive, and so has no intention of issuing the “flash” appeal.

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