Report: Nearly half in Zimbabwe need aid

HARARE, Zimbabwe – Nearly 5 million people will need food aid over the next year despite government claims Zimbabweans won’t need such relief, a U.N.-led group said Thursday.

At least 2.3 million rural people won’t have enough food because they don’t grow enough or couldn’t afford to purchase enough, Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee said in a report.

The panel, composed of U.N. agencies and aid groups, said earlier that about 2.5 million urban people will need food aid because of deepening poverty.

Officials of aid and humanitarian groups said the two assessments meant a total of about 5 million of the 12.5 million population will have to be given food help during the next months.

The government has forecast record harvests this year of 2.4 million tons of cereals. But U.N. crop forecasters estimate Zimbabwe will produce only half its food needs of about 2 million tons.

The often-violent seizure of thousands of white-owned farms for redistribution to black Zimbabweans, combined with erratic rains, have crippled the nation’s agriculture-based economy since 2000.


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