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UN Seeks $316 Million For Zimbabwean Humanitarian Needs In 2008

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in conjunction with 42 international aid agencies this week launched a $316 million consolidated appeal to fund humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe during 2008.

The U.N. agency said the loss of livelihoods, food insecurity, widening malnutrition and outbreaks of disease are further stressing an already vulnerable population.

The aid umbrella agency said the government's 2005 Operation Murambatsvina, a forced eviction and demolition campaign, combined with the trend of urbanization and the impact of land reform which drove significant numbers of people off the land since 2000, have created a large population of mobile and vulnerable migrants.

Such populations "often lack access to education and are highly vulnerable to unemployment, food insecurity and deterioration in health," it said.

The statement issued by the U.N. agency said that despite crisis resolution talks in progress under South African mediation, "vulnerable populations continue to be impacted by contentious governance and human rights issues."

The agency said Zimbabwe's current highly polarized political environment makes it harder to reach and assist target populations. But it urged aid groups to give priority to relieving HIV/Aids orphans who are estimated to number 1.6 million.

OCHA said the government’s capacity to respond to humanitarian needs has been diminished by the intensifying financial crisis. Economists say hyperinflation, last officially measured at 8,000%, could now be running at some 30,000%.

ActionAid Emergency Adviser Zvidzai Maburutse told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that conditions in Zimbabwe have now become desperate.

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