UN launches new Zimbabwe appeal as millions face food crisis

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The UN food agency on Tuesday launched a $331-million appeal for aid donations to feed millions of people in crisis-hit Zimbabwe, which is reeling from a drought and the high cost of food.

Around five million people, or a third of the 16 million Zimbabweans, are in need of aid and at least half of them are on the cusp of “starvation”, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).

Speaking at the launch of the appeal, WFP executive director David Beasley said 2.5 million Zimbabweans were “in crisis emergency mode… marching towards starvation”.

He added that by early next year 5.5 million in all, will be in a similar position.

A former regional breadbasket, Zimbabwe’s economy has been on a downturn for over a decade with perennial food shortages, a foreign currency crunch, scarcity of basic commodities and high unemployment.

The government blames the food shortages on the effects of climate change while critics say the shortages are a result of a slump in agricultural production following the government’s land reforms.