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Humanitarian Agencies Concerned Zimbabwe Crisis Could Hinder Relief

The political disarray in Zimbabwe's eight-month-old unity government is putting the country's most vulnerable people at risk, humanitarian relief experts say.

Representative to Zimbabwe Peter Salama of the United Nations Children’s Fund told AP it would be tragic if the crisis caused international donors to back away from the country.

Africa Operations Chief Charles Abani of Britain’s Oxfam said Zimbabwe needs “robust leadership” to avoid another major cholera epidemic, and that his organization is concerned that ongoing divisions in the government could hinder relief work.

Spokesman Fambai Ngirande of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that political leaders must be united to meet urgent humanitarian needs and avoid sending the wrong signal to donors.

While urging Zimbabweans to take care to only drink water from safe sources and observe other precautions in the forthcoming rainy season in particular, health officials say the country is not likely to see a repeat of last year’s massive cholera epidemic because much has been done on the ground to eliminate sources of infection.

Sources in government and international health organizations say that although more than 100 cases of cholera have been reported recently, safeguards are in place and most city councils are working very hard to address lingering water and sanitation issues.

Dr. Custodia Mandhlate, representative in Harare of the World Health Organization, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that there is no need for panic.

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