Caritas welcomes political breakthrough in Zimbabwe

"The humanitarian needs of the people of Zimbabwe will be immediate winners from the political breakthrough in Zimbabwe", said Caritas Australia's CEO Jack de Groot.

The political deal which sees Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe cede some power, "is a major concession that is likely to see a redoubling of aid efforts to the country to assist the millions living in severe poverty" said Mr de Groot.

During the drawn out election period, President Mugabe stopped many aid agencies who were collaboratively feeding more than 2 million people.

"The food situation in Zimbabwe is critical. Even if people have money, the shops are empty. More than 2 million people are currently reliant on food aid, and many more are now struggling to find one meal every second day. With the failure of the recent crops and the drop in agricultural production, this number reliant on food aid is expected to exceed five million people by the end of the year".

Caritas Australia through our local partners have continued to work in Zimbabwe, despite the aid restrictions, but are hopeful of increasing our access to those affected on the back of the political deal.

"Security throughout the country continues to be a major challenge and we are hopeful that this deal will see improved access to some of the rural areas where travel has been difficult and where poverty appears to be greatest.

Life expectancy for women in Zimbabwe is now 34 years (down from 65 years a decade ago) and the lowest in the world. Zimbabwe has the fastest shrinking global economy, shrinking by 40 percent since 2000. Agricultural production has decreased by 50 percent over the same period, inflation is currently running into the millions of percent, an estimated 80 per cent of adults are unemployed and over 85 per cent of Zimbabweans are now categorized as poor.

Caritas Australia has been working in Zimbabwe for over twenty years on building local capacity, mitigating the spread and impact of HIV/AIDS and improving agricultural outputs, particularly focused on sustainable environmental practices.

For more information contact: Tim O'Connor 0417 284 831