.- Following a Cholera outbreak and food shortages in Zimbabwe, Caritas Internationalis has launched a $7 million appeal to provide humanitarian assistance to the more than 250,000 people threatened by hunger and death.
Over the last five months, Cholera has killed over 1,700 people out of a reported 36,000 cases. Some five million people, half of Zimbabweâs population, now rely on food aid to survive.
A Caritas survey of Zimbabwe in October and November 2008 showed that between 70 percent and 90 percent of families are barely managing to feed themselves. According to Caritas, the worst affected areas are Masvingo, Bulawayo and Hwange, followed by Gokwe, Mutare and Gweru, then Harare (the capital) and Chinhoyi.
In order to survive, members of many families are picking wild foods, selling their animals or household items, or engaging in prostitution.
Caritas plans to provide monthly food rations for 164,000 people, 88,000 midday meals for schoolchildren and farming training for 4,600 homes. The charity will also provide clean water access to 16,000 homes and will supply 5,000 people with basic health care.
About 200 cases of children fainting at school from lack of food have been reported.
Caritas relief will target the most vulnerable people in Zimbabwe such as households headed by women or by children, as well as the sick and the elderly.
Caritas Internationalis Secretary-General Lesley-Anne Knight commented on the crisis:
âPeople will die in Zimbabwe unless they receive urgent humanitarian assistance. At least five million people need food aid but many more are going hungry. The high mortality from Cholera indicates an extreme international emergency.
âCaritas will provide food aid to a quarter of a million of the most vulnerable people through this appeal. We will also provide homes with clean water to prevent the spread of Cholera. The people of Zimbabwe desperately need our solidarity during this human tragedy.â
Deaths from hunger have been reported and the food crisis is expected to worsen during the peak of the hungry season from January to March.
Donations to Caritas can be made at http://www.caritas.org