Australia increases aid for Zimbabweans

AA 07 17

The Australian Government is to launch a new and vigorous campaign of support for the people of Zimbabwe against the repressive and incompetent policies of the Mugabe regime. The Australian Fund for Zimbabwe will aim to alleviate some of the worst effects of Zimbabwe's economic failures. It will also expand significantly our efforts to help ordinary Zimbabweans reassert their political and civil rights.

Today, more than three million Zimbabweans rely on food distribution programs for basic sustenance in a country which, as recently as 2000, was a net exporter of food. Average life expectancy in Zimbabwe is the lowest in the world, at only 33 years, down from 61 years in 1990. One fifth of Zimbabwe's population of 11 million are living with the debilitating effects of HIV/AIDS. Yet, under President Mugabe, only 10 per cent of the people who need treatment receive it. Amid the collapse of the nation's economy and social infrastructure, more than 1.3 million children are orphans.

This year, Australia has increased its aid for Zimbabwe by 33 per cent, to an estimated $6 million in 2006-07. In response to the brutal attacks by the Zimbabwean authorities on its political opponents, Australia's funding through civil society organisations has been expanded, including the provision of $82,000 to a non-government organisation which supports victims of political violence.

We recognise that more can, and should, be done. We will make further significant increases in our commitment into the future. Through the Australian Fund for Zimbabwe, the Australian Government will increase assistance for international humanitarian relief efforts in Zimbabwe, and strengthen support for civil society organisations promoting human rights and good governance.

Australia helped to bring democracy to Zimbabwe in 1980 and is now deeply shocked by the shameful incompetence and vindictive brutality of the Mugabe regime. The Australian Government remains determined to continue its support for ordinary Zimbabweans in the face of President Mugabe's assault on their rights and wellbeing.

Media contacts:
Tony Parkinson (Minister's Office) 02 6277 7500
AusAID (Public Affairs) 0417 680 590