Saturday, November 22, 2008

US ambassador blames Zim govt for humanitarian crisis

COMMENT - This is the strategy the US and the MDC have decided upon - going back to claiming that there is an 'urgent' humanitarian crisis. Obviously they did not get all the ministries they wanted or needed to destroy the economy or government. If he was truly concerned, he would state that he wanted to see sanctions lifted.

US ambassador blames Zim govt for humanitarian crisis
Written by George Chellah in Harare, Zimbabwe
Saturday, November 22, 2008 9:02:24 AM

ZIMBABWE is facing a man-made food and health emergency, US Ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee has said. And health minister Dr David Parirenyatwa has said the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe has spread to nine of the country's 10 provinces.

According to a statement released by the US embassy in Harare, Ambassador McGee analyzed the Zimbabwean situation to journalists at the US state department via a videoconference.

"Zimbabwe is facing a man-made food and health emergency that is being exacerbated by the actions of its government and the government's failure to implement a power-sharing agreement with its political opposition, Ambassador McGee stated. "We're seeing the humanitarian situation here in Zimbabwe really go down the tubes."

He said according to estimates from the UN community, about 1.5 million Zimbabweans were at risk of food insecurity currently.

"And by the end of this crop season, that number could jump up to over five million people," Ambassador McGee said.

Ambassador McGee also highlighted the sanitation problems facing the country.

"There are now 294 confirmed deaths from cholera here in Zimbabwe," Ambassador McGee said.

He said Zimbabwe's health system had totally collapsed and medical professionals were not being paid.

"The three major hospitals here in Harare have closed," Ambassador McGee claimed. "In some places, police have been stationed outside of clinics to ensure that no one can enter the premises."_

Ambassador McGee stated that the overall heath and food situation was "frankly, intolerable," and was concurrent with the political impasse between ZANU-PF and MDC.

"I don't see anything that's going to alleviate these problems until the government of Robert Mugabe starts to act in good faith and deal with Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC faction in a true manner," Ambassador McGee said. "Mugabe's grip over the country has become stronger during the past year, thanks to continued political payoffs to subordinates and the self-interested loyalty of security force leaders whose "hands are absolutely as bloody as his."

He said the United States would continue to put pressure on President Mugabe's regime.

"Through targeted sanctions that are having an effect against ZANU-PF officials, whose foreign assets have been seized and who have been forced to take their children out of foreign schools," Ambassador McGee said. "Unless something does happen in the very, very near future, we have no choice but to become more difficult, tougher, on our sanctions."

Ambassador McGee said the Bush administration also would continue to work with the SADC, AU and the United Nations to encourage them to "spin up" their actions against President Mugabe's regime.

"SADC's negotiations that led to the September 15 power-sharing agreement between ZANU-PF and the MDC were "a watershed moment" for the group, but SADC needs to continue its pressure against the government to "ensure that the will of the people of Zimbabwe is met" and "that the agreement or unity government is established," Ambassador McGee said.

He said SADC should not recognise President Mugabe as the legitimate President of Zimbabwe unless the power-sharing agreement was implemented.

Ambassador McGee said Zimbabweans also needed to encourage change to help relieve their suffering.

"As much as we can help them with the humanitarian assistance, and as much as we try to assist them with our political stance against this country, if there's going to be meaningful change in Zimbabwe, it's going to occur because of peaceful, democratic change here within the country," said Ambassador McGee.

Meanwhile, the country's health minister Dr Parirenyatwa said the cholera cases had increased.

Dr Parirenyatwa said Harare remained the worst hit and that the majority of outbreaks in other provinces were being traced to those in Harare.

There have been no reported cases of the disease in Bulawayo.

"The ministry is battling to control unprecedented cholera outbreaks affecting the country. The current wave of cholera outbreaks began in September 2008 affecting Chitungwiza Municipality and has since spread to Budiriro suburb in Harare area, which is now the epicentre of the disease.

"All cholera outbreaks in Beitbridge, Karoi, Manicaland, Seke, Goromonzi and others, except in Mudzi, are being traced to Harare with Budiriro being the main source," he said.

Dr Parirenyatwa said the first wave of the cholera outbreaks that started in January this year had resulted in cumulative 991 cases and 120 deaths.

But the Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights insist that around 300 people have died.



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