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Zimbabwe Food Security "Deteriorating By The Day" - USAID Official

The food security situation in Zimbabwe is deteriorating rapidly, according to the top disaster relief official for the U.S. Agency for International Development, whose assessment based on a recent visit to the country informed an appeal last week by USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore to the Harare government to rescind its ban on food distribution by aid groups.

Fore also called for the Zimbabwean government to communicate to authorities at all levels that the ban has been rescinded, and to guarantee the safety of humanitarian workers.

Though the Zimbabwean government this week announced a partial lifting of the ban imposed June 4 on food distribution by non-governmental organizations to permit the resumption of feeding programs for HIV/AIDS patients, the wider NGO distribution ban remains in effect and continues to block the flow of food aid to an increasingly distressed population.

The U.S. government among others deplored the ban on aid distribution when it was imposed and has been calling for it ban to be lifted. But the latest appeal from Fore was informed by a direct assessment by Ky Luu, director of USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance.

Reached early this week on another assignment in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Luu told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that "the situation is extremely alarming and it is deteriorating by the day."

Luu reported "an atmosphere of desperation" as consumers struggle to feed themselves and their families amidst hyperinflation that has driven the price of a loaf of bread from 20 U.S. cents in May to US$1.70 recently, when the average Zimbabwean makes $4 a month.

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