THE European Union’s executive commission last week approved 15 million euros (US$20,12 million) worth of aid for the poor and sick in Zimbabwe. The funds will be used for food, wat
er and sanitation for displaced people, those suffering from HIV/Aids, orphans and other vulnerable groups.
Estimates say about 25% of Zimbabweans are infected with the HIV virus.
EU development commissioner Louis Michel said in a statement: “The European Commission is committed to providing humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable Zimbabweans, regardless of the situation there.”
The EU imposed sanctions on President Mugabe and his inner circle after the controversial 2002 presidential election which most European observer groups felt was rigged.
The EU last month extended the sanctions to 2006 and include a ban on the sale, supply or transfer of arms to Zimbabwe. The EU might review its decision after the parliamentary election due on March 31.
The EU has however not lifted its ban on beef imports from Zimbabwe which is losing US$38 million annually in potential earnings because it has not implemented animal disease control measures following an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in 2001.
In December last year, head of the EU delegation in Harare, Francesca Mosca, said three years after the ban, Zimbabwe had not yet invited Brussels to come and verify whether the country had implemented EU-recommended disease control measures that could see the ban lifted.
Besides the government’s apparent inaction over disease control, Zimbabwe’s herd has declined by 82% from 1,4 million cattle before the chaotic land reform to about 250 000 at present and would be hard-pressed to meet its 9 100-tonne quota to the EU.