30 October 2008

Methodist Church warns of worsening humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe

The Methodist Church in Britain is warning that the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe is likely to worsen over the coming months.

Reports from Zimbabwe indicate that famine is set to grip the African country that has been ravaged by six poor harvests and economic collapse. The combination of the worst drought for a decade and bad government policies, along with lack of seeds and fertiliser, are proving disastrous.

The World Food Programme has estimated that 28 per cent of children under five are malnourished and vulnerable to disease. Many rural families only get one meal a day, but food aid stocks are running out. The number of people requiring food aid is expected to rise to around five million, or 45 per cent of the population, by January 2009.

Roy Crowder, Partnership Coordinator for World Church Relationships with special responsibility for Africa, said: 'The stalemate in negotiations between MDC and Zanu-PF is making the situation even worse. This is a time when people should be planting for the following year, but the economy is devastated and seeds and fertiliser are in short supply. The delay in achieving a viable political agreement threatens to prolong the economic and humanitarian crisis.'

When the ban on aid agencies operating in Zimbabwe was lifted last month, the Methodist Relief and Development Fund launched an appeal to deliver food and agricultural support to vulnerable people in partnership with ACT International. Roy said: 'We urge people to support the Methodist Relief and Development Fund appeal because the current crisis is expected to result in catastrophe in the next few months.'

Donations to MRDF's appeal for Zimbabwe can be made by debit or credit card on 020 7224 4814, or by cheque, payable to "MRDF (Zimbabwe emergency)", posted to MRDF, Methodist Church House, 25 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5JR.

Taxpayers are encouraged to gift aid their donations where possible, adding a value of 28p to every pound they give, at no extra personal cost.

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