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EU/US mull aid reduction

Augustine Mukaro

THE European Union and the United States might reduce humanitarian food assistance to Zimbabwe for the 2003/4 season because the problem is largely man-made, the Zimbabw

e Independent has learnt.

The European Union, which last year donated 83 million euros towards humanitarian assistance to the country, plans to cut its aid by 50% this year because there are many other places in need of assistance.

The US embassy this week said there were also other countries in need.

“We would want to continue with our aid but since Zimbabwe is not the only country in need of aid other areas would have to be considered,” said US embassy acting public affairs officer, Lucy Hall.

Last week EU head of delegation to Zimbabwe Francesca Mosca confirmed that the grouping had slashed its aid to Zimbabwe.

“A sum of 42 million euro has been earmarked from the European Commission’s budget,” Mosca said.

“The EU’s contribution to Zimbabwe alone, in the previous appeal, amounted to 83 million euros.

“These funds have been used to procure, transport and distribute almost 150 000 tonnes of food to the most vulnerable sections of the Zimbabwean population, especially the old, the sick and those with no means of support and access to food,” she said.

Mosca said the programming for the next appeal is on-going and additional fundraising may be made available from emergency reserve funding.

“The commitment of additional funding will be done when government makes the official request for assistance,” she said.

Mosca said the EU was aware that the crisis in Zimbabwe was also an accumulation of circumstances that would make it last for some time.

“Drought, successive poor harvests, collapse of the economy, forced land acquisition, restrictive market access and control have made for a political and humanitarian crisis.

“The donation likely to be given to Zimbabwe at any given time depends on the projected magnitude of the crisis as it unfolds in the future depending on the projected shortfall from this years harvest,” she said.

She said the conclusions of crop assessments undertaken suggested that the overall cereal gap or import requirement was in excess of 1,2 million tonnes.

“At this point it is estimated that Zimbabwe will need in excess of 600 000 tonnes in the form of food aid,” she said.

The EU’s commitment to the humanitarian crisis in Southern Africa currently stands at 328 million euros. The contribution covers 42% of total needs in the region. This amounts to 272 000 tonnes of food aid as well as non-food humanitarian aid such as seed, fertiliser, vaccines and other essential items.

Hall said the government’s appeal to other countries would determine levels of assistance.

“Though we are not sure of what will be donated at the moment, it would be determined by government’s appeal and demands from other areas,” Hall said.

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