Netherlands envoy warns Zimbabwe regime against politicising food aid

HARARE – Netherlands ambassador to Zimbabwe Gera Sneller has warned the Zimbabwe government against politicising food aid.

Sneller, who was speaking at the unveiling of a €3,5 million Oxfam drought response project, said humanitarian needs must be prioritised before involving other issues.

“We have been receiving reports of the politicisation of assistance where people have been denied access to food aid because they belong to a certain political party or did not belong to another,” she said.

“Government should ensure that this does not happen. Assistance should go to people that need it the most regardless of their political affiliations,” Sneller added.

Her remarks come on the back of the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) estimating that there are currently 1,6 million Zimbabweans in dire need of food aid.

Zimbabwe — among the southern African countries that have been ravaged by the El Nino-induced drought in the 2015/2016 season — has seen the number of food insecure people rising from 2,8 million to 4,1 million this year.

Oxfam country director Machinda Marongwe said the €3,5 million is targeted at assisting the starving people for six months, having begun last month.

He said the response will look at early recovery activities in food security, agriculture, nutrition and water.

Marongwe added that priority areas included Matabeleland North, Midlands, Masvingo, Mashonaland West and Matabeleland South provinces.

“The programme is expected to reach out to more than 250 000 vulnerable people affected by the drought in the targeted provinces and will complement government’s efforts to address food and nutrition insecurity issues caused by El Nino,” he said.

World Vision senior programmes officer, Pennia Mavedzenge, said 60 schools in Hwange District have been earmarked to benefit from the feeding programme.

“We are also targeting children under five years old to get feeding.

“We will also be distributing climate sensitive seeds and chickens as safety nets to complement aid in households,” she said. -Daily News

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