EU talks must place focus on Zimbabwe

As Zimbabwean leader, President Mugabe, flies into Lisbon for the AU / EU Summit (7-9 December 2007), Tearfund, a UK relief and development agency, is urging that the talks should focus on the devastating humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe.

Gary Swart, Director, Tearfund commented, "We fully support Prime Minister Gordon Brown's boycotting of the talks due to Mugabe's attendance at the summit. We are disappointed that the EU has allowed President Mugabe to attend the summit. However, since he is attending, we would call on the leaders present at the summit to challenge Mugabe on the failure of his government to address the crisis in his country."

Tearfund is calling for the critical humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe to be urgently addressed. Useni Sibanda, National Coordinator, Zimbabwe Christian Alliance said, "As Mugabe flies off to Lisbon, he leaves his country in crisis. Four million Zimbabweans are in desperate need of food relief in a country that has the highest number of orphans per capita in the world."

Sifiso Mpofu lives outside Bulawayo with her six children and says, "The situation is just too difficult. We don't have food. The money is not enough for anything now. I could buy food enough for three meals a day in 2005 but nothing now."

Tearfund has launched an emergency appeal to support Zimbabwe churches bringing help to the poorest families affected by Zimbabwe's spiralling crisis. Many have gone without food for weeks with even basic items unavailable in shops. The World Food Programme has warned that over four million people are at risk of severe food shortages. The appeal has so far raised over =A31.2 million.

Notes to Editors

For further information, photos or interviews please contact Sarah Greenwood or Abby King on 020 8943 7936 or 07939 120545.

Useni Sibanda from Zimbabwe Christian Alliance is available for interview to discuss the daily challenges of life and the work the local church is doing in Zimbabwe.

Appeal details: =A320 could provide essential food supplements for five children

=A375 could provide two households with seeds and training to grow maize

=A31,000 could provide clean, safe water for 500 people via tank or bore-hole access

Donations can be made at www.tearfund.org/emergency or call 0845 355 8355

Tearfund has been working with local churches fighting poverty and social injustice in Zimbabwe for 27 years. Tearfund is the UK's leading Christian relief and development agency, committed to addressing the causes of poverty in many of the poorest countries around the world. Tearfund is a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee.