Methodist Church warns of worsening humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe

The Methodist Church in Britain is warning that thehumanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe is likely to worsen over the comingmonths.

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

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

Roy Crowder, Partnership Coordinator for World ChurchRelationships with special responsibility for Africa, said: 'Thestalemate in negotiations between MDC and Zanu-PF is making thesituation even worse. This is a time when people should be plantingfor the following year, but the economy is devastated and seeds andfertiliser are in short supply. The delay in achieving a viablepolitical agreement threatens to prolong the economic andhumanitarian crisis.'

When the ban on aid agencies operating in Zimbabwe was lifted lastmonth, the Methodist Relief and Development Fund launched an appealto deliver food and agricultural support to vulnerable people inpartnership with ACT International. Roy said: 'We urge people tosupport the Methodist Relief and Development Fund appeal becausethe current crisis is expected to result in catastrophe in the nextfew months.'

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

Taxpayers are encouraged to gift aid their donations wherepossible, adding a value of 28p to every pound they give, at noextra personal cost.