Zimbabwe: British charity resumes feeding operation

JOHANNESBURG, 26 November (IRIN) - Save The Children's Fund (SCF) has resumed its operations in Zimbabwe following the lifting of a ban that prohibited the British charity from distributing emergency food aid.
In October SCF and Oxfam, another British NGO, were banned from distributing food aid supplied by the World Food Programme. Additionally, SCF was ordered to stop distributing its own food to people in the Binga district of western Zimbabwe.

However, an agreement last Tuesday between the government and SCF has enabled the organisation to restart its programmes.

SCF's Programme Manager Chris McIvor told IRIN: "The agreement between ourselves and the authorities is based on the SCF's guiding principles under which we have always operated in Zimbabwe. We will seek full cooperation with local authorities in areas where we conduct our feeding schemes. Also, we will continue to deliver non-partisan humanitarian assistance."

Last year the government accused aid agencies of using food relief to campaign for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

McIvor said that 3,000 people in Binga had already received rations of maize, cooking oil and beans, adding that a further 30,000 people would be fed in coming weeks. The numbers of beneficieries is expected to increase to 125,000 per month until April 2003.

"We have 350 mt of food aid in storage which we need to move. Because of the temporary suspension which caused a delay in our distributions we are trying to catch up," McIvor added.

He pointed out that while SCF had yet to conduct a nutritional analysis of beneficiaries, fieldworkers had not reported any deaths linked to severe malnutrition or starvation.

"This is not say that there has not been any deaths as result of the acute food shortages but we have not recorded any so far," McIvor said.

WFP has estimated that close to seven million are in need of emergency food aid until the next harvest in March/April 2003.


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