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Humanitarian Agencies In Zimbabwe Seek To Comply, Resume Aid

Most non-governmental organizations in Zimbabwe with humanitarian missions say they have relaunched operations two weeks after Harare lifted a ban on such activity that it imposed in June and are striving to meet new and by some accounts onerous new government requirements for re-registration and reporting.

Spokesman Fambai Ngirande of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations said most organizations have decided to resume operations to assist the rapidly rising number of hungry people following a failed harvest and the breakdown of supply channels during the turbulent March-June election period.

But Ngirande said an NGO committee is considering taking the government to court over the new regulations. He added that some areas of the country remain inaccessible as war veterans and youth militia remain in local control and are harassing aid workers.

The U.S. branch of Oxfam was to resume operations this week, reports said.

A spokesman for the United Nations World Food Program said the agency has resumed activity in the country and will abide by any regulations set by the government.

Spokesman Richard Lee of the World Food Program's Southern African regional office said his organization’s 14 implementing partners in Zimbabwe will increase their reach from the 2.7 million people assisted in the first three months of 2008 to some 3.2 million in the first three months of next year. U.N. food agencies have estimated that as many as some 5.1 million Zimbabweans could require food aid by early 2009.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwean chiefs have accusing some politicians of diverting food intended for hungry villagers to the lucrative parallel market.

Speaking at a conference for traditional leaders in Bulawayo, the chiefs said party brass and some district administrators were hijacking food and farming implements being distributed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to needy villagers.

But some of the chiefs have themselves been accused of diverting food, while others have been accused of taking a hand in organizing recent political violence.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Programs Officer Philip Pasirayi told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the chiefs are condemning corruption because they now must work with a reform-minded group of councilors from the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change who were elected in March.

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