*Written by Chief Reporter *
HARARE - The European Union has provided US$2billion worth of aid to Zimbabwe since 2002, a top EU diplomat has said.
The EU, which maintains sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle over charges of human rights abuses and electoral fraud, remains one of the country's largest donors.
Aldo Dell Ariccia, head of the EU delegation to Zimbabwe, said at the EU Day on Tuesday the bloc had given more than US$2billion to the southern African country since 2002. "In Zimbabwe, since the year 2002, EU development assistance has been of approximately 1.5billion Euro or US$2billion and it has been devoted to the health sector, to education, to food security and agriculture, to water and sanitation, to humanitarian programmes, to governance, to trade and last but not last, to arts," he said.
The EU had also supported the recently-ended Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) Mugabe and long-term rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai formed a power-sharing government two years ago to try to end a political and economic crisis, largely blamed on Mugabe's drive to seize land from whites to resettle landless blacks.Mugabe regularly blames the EU for the country's economic collapse, which he blames on targeted sanctions mainly targeting his cronies.