Zimbabwe: Support for new Prime Minister



On Friday night 13 February, I spoke to Mr Morgan Tsvangirai to congratulate him as he assumed the position of Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.

I told Prime Minister Tsvangirai that the Government and the people of Australia stood with him as he confronted the enormous challenges faced by the people of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe's economy and its health and education sectors have collapsed. Around three-quarters of Zimbabwe's estimated remaining population require food aid and nearly 3,500 people have died from cholera.

The needs of the people of Zimbabwe are acute. I also told Prime Minister Tsvangirai Australia will immediately provide additional emergency assistance of $5 million to the people of Zimbabwe to address the escalating cholera epidemic.

The United Nations has reported more than 73,000 cases of cholera in Zimbabwe, and over 3,500 deaths. The cholera epidemic is the worst in modern day Zimbabwe and the worst in Africa for several years.

The additional $5 million contribution to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will help vulnerable people in rural and urban areas.

The assistance comprises $3 million to UNICEF for its emergency water and sanitation program in Zimbabwe and $2 million to its vital medicines support program.

Australia is the fifth-largest donor to humanitarian appeals for Zimbabwe, after the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Commission and the Netherlands.

In addition to continuing humanitarian assistance the Australian Government is considering how it can best support Prime Minister Tsvangirai and the Zimbabwe people.

The Government is carefully and urgently examining what assistance it can give particularly in the health, education, food security and agriculture areas.

Australia will also consult with other major aid donors to determine how best we can assist the people of Zimbabwe.

Media Contacts:

Mr Smith's Office: Courtney Hoogen 02 6277 7500 or 0488 244901
Departmental : (02) 6261 1555